Though their awards were separated by 37 years, the second male black writer to win the National Book Award for fiction thanked the first male black winner when he accepted his prize this week.

Seattle novelist Charles Johnson, who received the 1990 award for his novel "Middle Passage," told a black-tie audience at Manhattan's Plaza Hotel that Ralph Ellison's classic "Invisible Man," the 1953 winner, was "a remarkable aesthetic vision . . . that has sustained me for over 20 years."Ellison, 76, was there to hear the praise, seated at the same table with the 42-year-old Johnson during the National Book Awards' 40th anniversary banquet.

The other major award, for nonfiction, went to Ron Chernow for "The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance." Both Johnson and Chernow received $10,000 and a specially commissioned sculpture by Joel Shapiro. The other finalists each received $1,000.

The National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization which adminsters the awards, also presented Nobel Prize-winning author Saul Bellow with its Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. - Seattle Times

- A HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH teacher, novelists from Portugal and India and a French philosopherwere among the winners of prestigious literary prizes awarded this week in Paris.

English teacher Pierrette Fleutiaux won the Femina prize for "We are Eternal," an 800-page novel about unconventional love affairs. Vergilio Ferreira, regarded as one of this century's greatest Portuguese writers, won the Femina foreign prize for "The Lost Morning," about his unhappy childhood spent in a seminary.

The Medicis prize went to Jean-Noel Pancrazi for "Winter Quarters," and the Medicis foreign prize went to India's Amitav Ghosh for "Fireworks."

Philosopher Rene Girard, a longtime resident of the United States and virtually unknown to the French public, received the Medecis essay prize for "Shakespeare the Flames of Envy." - Associated Press

- SOUTH AFRICAN author J.M. Coetzee has won Britain's richest fiction prize, the $39,000 Sunday Express Book of the Year award, for his novel "Age of Iron." It is the first book in four years from Coetzee, who won acclaim for his earlier novels, "Waiting for the Barbarians" and "Life and Times of Michael K." - Associated Press