November 15, 2001 09:55 AM

Jonathan Franzen, the author who won Oprah Winfrey’s disapproval, found a forgiving home in New York at Wednesday’s National Book Awards. He won the fiction prize for his acclaimed best seller “The Corrections,” a 500-page chronicle of the life and times of an unhappy Midwestern family. Published to rave reviews, it immediately became the year’s most discussed work of literary fiction. But attention soon shifted from the work to the writer. Five years after lamenting in an essay for Harper’s magazine that authors could no longer rouse people to anger anymore, he did just that — by insulting Oprah. The talk show empress made “The Corrections” her September book club pick, virtually ensuring hundreds of thousands of sales. But Franzen, 42, sounded less than grateful in subsequent interviews, though he did tell people that right after he spoke to Oprah, “I called my girlfriend in California and it was like, ‘Oh my God.’ .” Among his gripes, he complained the Oprah logo on his book cover amounted to a “corporate” endorsement. Winfrey responded by canceling the dinner she traditionally holds for a chosen author. Fellow writers called Franzen an elitist, and publishing insiders speculated that his chances for winning the fiction prize had been severely diminished. Not so, though Franzen did receive a few boos Wednesday night as awards host Steve Martin (who said Franzen would appear on “Martha Stewart’s Good Morning Wisconsin”) read the list of finalists. The applause was polite when his name was announced. But after Franzen concluded his speech, in which he thanked Winfrey for her “advocacy” of reading and called books “the most lovely things human beings make,” the response was warm and sustained, reports the Associated Press.

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