35 New York Authors’ Favorite New York Authors


We don’t know about you, but we’re always in the market for a new literary discovery. And when you’re on the hunt for a new book or a new writer to delve into, who better to ask than the folks who make their livings reading and writing themselves? With that in mind, we asked a few of the most important living New York authors to name-drop some of their favorite living New York authors — and what do you know? We have a few in common. After the jump, find out who 35 amazing NYC-based authors keep on their nightstands, and let us know your own favorite NYC writers in the comments.

Emma Straub

“Jennifer Egan, though Lorrie Moore will be teaching at NYU this spring, so that could get a little dicey. Let’s call it a tie so that the twin goddesses’ feelings don’t get hurt.”

Jami Attenberg

“Tough question! I have so many favorites and also a fear of intimacy, so it will be difficult for me to declare my love for just one. I know Auster and Gaitskill have felt important to me in my life, but there are just so many more. Also, people leave town — Kate Christensen comes to mind — but I will think of them as New Yorkers forever.”

Darin Strauss

“E.L. Doctorow/DeLillo, if Bronxville counts.”

Amy Hempel

“Sharon Olds.”

Téa Obreht

“I remember reading Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children at a turning point in my relationship to fiction — it blew me away, of course, but it was also the first book that made me aware writers could be living and significant at the same time. This sounds ridiculous, but for a teenager making the jump from thinking about writing as something people did to something people do, it made a great deal of difference.”

Samuel Delany

“Probably because I live in New York and have lived here all my life, I don’t read many writers who write about New York City itself. I like to read stories by writers whose writing takes me places otherwise I don’t know at all. Vincent Czyz writes wonderful tales about Kansas and the Eastern Balkans — and Junot Diaz writes beautifully about the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark and New Jersey in general, which, without him would be a blur out the bus window between my home and Temple University in Philladelphia, where I teach.”

Nathan Englander

“I hate to pick favorite anythings — especially in New York, where I have lots and lots of favorites. But I will say that Philip Roth’s work means a whole lot to me. Though I’d really like to go on and on listing New Yorkers I love to read, writers from across the generations and hailing from a number of boroughs.”

Sam Lipsyte

“Don DeLillo.”

Peter Carey

“Joan Didion and 17 others.”

Lev Grossman

“I’m pretty sure it’s Joan Didion.”

Eileen Myles

“Myself, of course. I walk the line between poetry, fiction and nonfiction and I passionately believe in the cracks. When I’m gone there won’t be any more writing.”

Emily Gould

“Eileen Myles, forever and always.”

Ben Marcus

“Deborah Eisenberg.”

Sloane Crosley

“Joan Didion.”

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh

“Thomas Beller. He lives in New Orleans now, but he’s still a New York writer. He’ll always be a New York writer. His writing is infused with the city’s sensibility, and his website mrbellersneighborhood.com is nothing but New York. He’s also helped many New York writers get their start, including me.”

Gay Talese

“My favorite contemporary writer has long been Philip Roth.”

Todd Gitlin

“Colum McCann and Brian Morton.”

Gary Shteyngart

“Are you kidding? There are so many!”

Chuck Klosterman

“Discounting every New York writer I know personally, have met in passing, or have interviewed … I would say David Grann. Or do you specifically mean a novelist? If I can count someone I’ve technically met but never actually spoken with, I would say David Gates.”

Jonathan Ames

“Paul Auster.”

Junot Díaz

“Samuel R. Delany, who has no equal and whose Times Square Red, Times Square Blue is still essential reading for any wannabe New Yorker. Wait, do you mean by contemporary ‘has to be around my age’? Then it’s breathtakingly brilliant Edwidge Danticat: novel, stories, memoir — she does it all and beautifully.”

Siddhartha Mukherjee

“Jennifer Egan.”

Keith Gessen

“Don DeLillo.”

Siri Hustvedt

“Aside from my husband, Paul Auster, I admire Don DeLillo. I love the musical crunch of his sentences and his often hilarious diction. I am more attracted to the phenomenological strain in his novels than to the sociological. Few writers evoke subjective sensory experience better than he does.”

Adrian Tomine

“Philip Roth.”

A.M. Homes

“Joan Didion.”

Mark Doty

“I’m not sure I really believe in the idea of a ‘favorite writer’ — you know, you love different work at different times, need a whole range of things from what you’re reading. If pressed, I’d say Marie Howe, who is a great, humane poet; her work is full of ordinary moments that are so fully delineated, seen into, that they become revelations. Plus I think she works harder than anyone I know. If allowed to name my favorite not-living New York writer, I’d without hesitation say William Maxwell, whose stories so capture the quicksilver spirit of this city.”

Fred Seidel

“Philip Roth.”

Kurt Andersen

“If Don DeLillo counts as a New York writer, him.”

David Grann

“I don’t think it’s possible to name just one — there are too many great ones. But Gay Talese is a distinctly New York writer who had perhaps the most impact on me, helping to show me the possibilities of narrative nonfiction. I often read again stories from his collection Fame and Obscurity, or return to his book The Bridge for inspiration.”

Walter Mosley

“My favorite living New York writer is Junot Díaz.”

Amy Sohn

“Bruce Jay Friedman.”

Oliver Sacks

“Jay Neugeboren.”

Francine Prose

“Favorite apples? Favorite oranges? How could I possibly pick favorites from the immense range of talent?”

Arianna Reines

“Alice Notley, except now she lives in Paris.”