Stefan Zweig, the obscure Austrian writer whose life and work inspired The Grand Budapest Hotel, believed imagination could help propel society toward universal tolerance and accord.
Author Mona Simpson talks about Chekhov's "Three Years," which plays on rom-com tropes to convey just how grand a story of two people learning to appreciate each other can be.
Author Linn Ulmann makes the case for the importance of here in "Something happened here."
Marcus Burke, author of Team Seven and a former college athlete, learned from Carter G. Woodson that teaching yourself is just as important as being taught in the classroom.
Maggie Shipstead, author of Astonish Me, looks to Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse as an example of how to speed up and slow down fiction narratives effectively.
The Empathy Exams author Leslie Jamison felt ashamed of writing about the physical form until a Virginia Woolf essay vindicated her interest in the fluids and muscles that make us human.
As author Ted Thompson learned from John Cheever, a redemptive resolution doesn't erase the darkness of a story, but instead finds the light within it.
The author of The Woman Upstairs says that writing preserves the worlds we inhabit—even if so much of them dies with us.
John Steinbeck’s To a God Unknown showed author Alexai Galaviz-Budziszewski that great work can happen when you write without knowing where you're going.
Author Dinaw Mengestu says good books help you to recognize yourself in the unfamiliar.
Author Yiyun Li doesn't just study people on the subway—she studies her characters, unflinchingly imagining their gaze until she understands them fully.
Thirty Girls author Susan Minot says great writing—like T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"—is a source of nourishment readers turn to again and again.
The Nobel Prize winner is a role model for writers looking to bridge the personal, domestic details of the short story with the global forces of history, author Kyle Minor says.
The lesson author Dorthe Nors took from Ingmar Bergman: It's not drugs, poverty, or wild lovers that make a great writer. It's discipline and time alone.
Rebecca Mead, New Yorker staff writer and author of My Life in Middlemarch, shares what Eliot's Middlemarch taught her about love, marriage, and journalism.
Author and journalist Jennifer Percy was a committed physics major until a Lawrence Sargent Hall story showed her a more satisfying way to approach life's complexities.
Author Ben Marcus says the beautiful but sorrowful strangeness of Kafka's "A Message from the Emperor" make it a perfect piece of writing.
The veteran author says Theodore Roethke's poetry is a reminder that sometimes you're hot, sometimes you're not.
Highlights from 12 months of interviews with writers about their craft and the authors they love
Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" helps remind the Joy Luck Club author to capture the "microscopic" details that make her characters unique.