For the writer Mark Haddon, Miles Davis’s seminal jazz album Bitches Brew is a reminder of the beauty and power of challenging works.
Despite critics’ dismissal of activist-minded fiction, the author Lydia Millet believes that Dr. Seuss’s classic children’s book is powerful because of its message, not in spite of it.
The writer Kathryn Harrison believes that words flow best when the opaque, unknowable aspects of the mind take over.
Dostoyevsky taught the writer Charles Bock that inventive writing is the most effective way to conjure reality.
Melissa Broder of So Sad Today finds solace in Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death and in her own creative process.
The author Ethan Canin probes the depths of a single sentence in Saul Bellow’s short story “A Silver Dish.”
Philip Roth taught the author Tony Tulathimutte that writers should aim to show all aspects of their subjects—not only the morally upstanding side.
The author of The Queen of the Night describes how a scene by Charlotte Bronte showed him the dramatic stakes of social interaction in fiction.
The author Paul Lisicky describes how Flannery O’Connor pulls her subjects apart to make them stronger.
Highlights from 12 months of interviews with writers about their craft and the authors they love
The writer Kevin Barry believes that the medium’s best hope lies in the mesmerizing power of audio storytelling.
The Paris Review editor discusses why the best stories ask more questions then they answer.
Mary Gaitskill, author of The Mare, explains how a single moment in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina reveals its characters’ hidden selves.
The ex-Granta editor John Freeman on how the author Louise Erdrich perfectly interprets Faulkner
The Fates and Furies author describes how Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse portrays the span of life.
The author and illustrator Brian Selznick discusses how Maurice Sendak showed him the power of picture books.
The novelist Angela Flournoy discusses how Zora Neale Hurston helped her imagine characters and experiences alien to her.
The Egyptian writer and activist Alaa Al Aswany explains how one word in Dostoyevsky’s novel The House of the Dead showed him how literature can help us understand one another.
The author Jesse Ball discusses Lewis Carroll's ‘Jabberwocky’ and how precise prose doesn’t always make for powerful work.
The author Mary-Beth Hughes discusses how Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel The Blue Flower showed her that words can dance.