Lithuania delegates say ''The Corrections'' maligns their country

By Matthew Flamm
November 30, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
Jonathan Franzen: Thomas Fuchs
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Poor Jonathan Franzen. The world’s most famously disinvited guest just can’t get a break. The winner of this year’s National Book Award is facing complaints from new quarters: Lithuanian representatives in the United States have taken exception to ”The Corrections”’ depiction of its capital, Vilnius — including economic chaos, gangsterism, and a diet reliant on horse meat.

”In Vilnius, you can get much better food than in New York,” says the Lithuanian consul general, Rimantas Morkvenas, calling Franzen’s descriptions of the city ”simply ridiculous.” In a letter to Franzen and his publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Vygaudas Usackas, the Lithuanian ambassador, complained that the portrayal of Lithuania has ”unintended harmful consequences in the perceptions your readers will take away from the book.” He also invited Franzen to visit the country, which he has never done. Responds FSG publicity director Jeff Seroy: ”It’s certainly not a fatwa. It’s a generous invitation, and maybe [Franzen] will take him up on it.”

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