National Book Awards Acceptance Speeches

Jonathan Franzen, Winner of the 2001 FICTION AWARD forThe Corrections

Hi. I haven't been nervous until this minute, but now I am. I wanted to say it's been a bad couple of months here in New York City. I mean that seriously. Really bad, a dark time.

Now, on a lighter note, I'd like to say that I feel as if I was the person who provided some blood sport entertainment to divert the literary community in this time of trouble. [Applause] I'd like to say that I was very happy to perform this service for my city and for my country. On the other hand, the next time a public emergency arises, if anyone else would like to step into the bullring, they are more than welcome to take my place.

Having said that, this is just -- I'm not here, I'm still sitting in the chair.

I'd like to thank some readers. First of all, I'd like to thank the Fiction Committee, which had the unenviable task of picking one book from among a very strong field of five finalists. I'd like to thank my agent, Susan Golomb, who I think is the smartest and toughest agent in New York City.

I'd like to thank my extended family at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, especially Jonathan Galassi, for all the patience and support they've shown me in the last 14 years. I'd also like to thank Oprah Winfrey for her enthusiasm and advocacy on behalf of The Corrections. I'd like to thank the many, many, many reviewers and editors and booksellers, all of them readers, who helped bring the book to national attention.

I'd like to thank my friends and family, most especially Kathy Chetkovich, for making life worth living along the way. I'd like to thank all readers everywhere for keeping alive what I believe is the most-lovely thing that human beings make, which is the book. Finally, I'd like to thank my parents, Earl and Irene Franzen, for a lifetime of love. I wish they were here tonight.

Thank you very much.