The Novelist's Lexicon

At an international literary conference, 70 authors, including Jonathon Lethem, Colum McCann, A. S. Byatt, and Annie Proulx, were asked to choose one word that might offer a key to their work or their creative process. Their "passwords," and the musings they inspire, make fascinating reading.

April 16: ""Blue pottery vases and bowls for flowers are most attractive, and certain blue books...will repeat and emphasize color."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…