Judith Thurman

Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

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Judith Thurman
New Yorker staff writer and author of Cleopatra's Nose: 39 Varieties of Desire (Picador)

People often underestimate the power of... A spontaneous act of kindness. It's the little things—a smile, or offering someone your seat—that express our sense of solidarity with other human beings.

I felt most powerful when... I wrote the last sentence of my first book. Writing is fraught with obstacles, so finishing feels like climbing to a mountaintop and planting your flag.

A true sign of power is... Self-reliance, as in the really important person who answers her own phone. I respect people who don't need trappings of power because they've found it within.
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