Why Writer Ayad Akhtar Reads Shakespeare Every Day

The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright discusses his creative rituals and the process for writing his new novel, Homeland Elegies.

Illustration depicting a female with a microphone

Listen longer

Slate Plus members get ad-free versions of all Slate podcasts, plus extra segments, bonus episodes, and more. Try it today for just $1.

Join Slate Plus

Episode Notes

This week, host Isaac Butler talks to playwright Ayad Akhtar about dream journals, beginning the workday by reading Shakespeare, and other creative rituals and techniques. Then Ayad discusses the origins of his new novel, Homeland Elegies, and explains how he was able to blend autobiographical elements with fictional ones.

After the interview, Isaac and co-host June Thomas talk about one of Ayad’s mentors, legendary theater director Jerzy Grotowski.

In the exclusive Slate Plus segment, Ayad recommends two books that transformed the way he thinks about writing.

Send your questions about creativity and any other feedback to or give us a call at (304) 933-WORK. That’s (304) 933-9675.

Podcast production by Cameron Drews.


About the Show

Slate interviews Americans about their jobs.

All episodes