Jonathan Franzen "embarrassed" he doesn't know more black people

Jonathan Franzen attends the WELT Award For Literature on November 8, 2013 in Berlin, Germany.

Timur Emek/Getty Images

NEW YORK -- Award-winning novelist Jonathan Franzen has an admittedly uncomfortable reason for why he doesn't expect to write a book about racial relations: He doesn't know many blacks.

In an interview that appeared last weekend on Slate.com, the author of "The Corrections" said he had few black friends and had "never been in love" with a black woman. He called his comments "an embarrassing confession."

Franzen's remarks were widely criticized, with National Book Award finalist Angela Flournoy tweeting that Franzen's books were indeed "about race," if only because they expressed a white perspective.

Author Celeste Ng tweeted that Franzen showed a "failure of writing and of humanity." In response, Joyce Carol Oates suggested Franzen's detractors "cast the first stone" and write "stronger novels than J.F." Oates called that the "best revenge."

Oates then blocked Ng on Twitter.