The poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong depicts the everyday effects of prejudice in a way readers can’t leave behind.
In writing, originality doesn’t have to mean rejecting traditional forms.
The novelist Jami Attenberg shares a poem that helped her understand her own relationship to isolation.
The novelist Téa Obreht describes how a single surprising image in The Old Man and the Sea sums up the main character's identity.
Chuck Klosterman, the author of Raised in Captivity, believes that art criticism often has very little to do with the work itself.
On a quest to make sense of what was happening to her body, the author Darcey Steinke sought guidance from female killer whales.
When his 2-year-old daughter died, Jayson Greene turned to writing to survive his grief, and to Dante’s Inferno for words to describe it.
An ancient saying he learned from his subjects, the Lamalerans, showed the journalist Doug Bock Clark how to tell the story of a tribe with no recorded history.
What the debut writer Kristen Roupenian learned from a masterful tale that dramatizes the horrors of being a young woman
John Wray describes how a wilderness survival guide taught him to face his fears while completing his most challenging book yet.
Nicole Chung explains how an essay about sailing taught her to embrace her fears as she worked up to writing her memoir, All You Can Ever Know.
Gary Shteyngart dissects one of the “most unexpected” lines in fiction and shares how it influenced his latest novel, Lake Success.
The author Laura van den Berg on what inspired her newest novel, The Third Hotel, and how she accesses the part of the mind that fiction comes from
The author R. O. Kwon reflects on the relationship of rhythm to writing and how she stopped obsessing over the first 20 pages of her new novel, The Incendiaries.
A.M. Homes on the short-story writer’s “For Esmé—With Love and Squalor,” and the lifelong effects of fleeting interactions
The nonfiction author Cutter Wood on how the comedian’s work helped him imbue minor characters with emotional life
The novelist Mary Morris explains how the opening line of One Hundred Years of Solitude shaped her path as a writer.
The author Tayari Jones explains what Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon taught her about the centrality of male protagonists in stories that explore female suffering.
The memoirist Terese Marie Mailhot on how Maggie Nelson’s Bluets taught her to explode the parameters of what a book is supposed to be
The author Martin Puchner on the way advances in paper production helped pave the way for The Tale of Genji
The National Book Award finalist Min Jin Lee on how the story of Joseph, and the idea that goodness can come from suffering, influences her work
The comedian and writer John Hodgman explains what Stephen King’s 1981 horror novel taught him about risking mistakes in storytelling—and fatherhood.
The author Carmen Maria Machado, a finalist for this year’s National Book Award in Fiction, discusses the brilliance of an eerie passage from Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.
The Little Fires Everywhere novelist Celeste Ng explains how the surprising structure of the classic children’s book informs her work.
The Sour Heart author discusses Roberto Bolaño’s “Dance Card,” humanizing minor characters through irreverence, and homing in on history’s footnotes.
The novelist Scott Spencer on the English author’s short story “The Gardener” and what it reveals about transforming shame into art
The novelist Victor LaValle on how dark material hits hardest when it’s balanced out with wonder
A New York Times editor on the coffee-stained list she’s kept for almost three decades
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Elizabeth Strout discusses Louise Glück’s poem “Nostos” and the powerful way literature can harbor recollection.
Hannah Tinti, the author of The Good Thief, explains what she learned about patience and risk from the T.S. Eliot poem "East Coker."
The award-winning author discusses the poetry of Wendell Berry, and the importance of abandoning yourself to mystery.
The memoirist Melissa Febos discusses how an Annie Dillard essay, “Living Like Weasels,” helped refocus her life after overcoming addiction.
Dissecting a line from the author’s story “The Embassy of Cambodia,” Jonathan Lee questions his own myopia as a novelist.
The Lincoln in the Bardo author dissects the Russian writer’s masterful meditations on beauty and sorrow in the short story “Gooseberries,” and explains the importance of questioning your stance while writing.
The veteran author John Rechy discusses the powerful enigma of William Faulkner and the beauty of the unsolved narrative.
Ottessa Moshfegh, the author of the novel Eileen, opens up about coping with depression, how writing saved her life, and finding solace in an overlooked song.
The author Emily Ruskovich discusses the uncanny restraint of Alice Munro and the art of starting a short story.
What the violent suffering in Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot taught the author Laurie Sheck about finding inspiration in torment and illness
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon discusses what he learned about empathy from Borges’s “The Aleph.”
Franz Kafka’s work taught the writer Jonathan Lethem about how to incorporate chaos into narratives.
The novelist Nell Zink discusses the psalm that inspired her, and what she learned about the solitary artistic process from her Catholic upbringing.
The poem “Wild Nights! - Wild Nights!” taught the novelist Emma Donoghue about sexuality, ambiguity, and intimacy.
The novelist and poet Alice Mattison discusses finding inspiration in the unconventional short stories of Grace Paley.
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.