I read a great short story by Chekhov last week, the Bishop. Powerful stuff.
One of my favourite fiction writers is Mordechai Richler, and Barney's Version is his ultimate I think, featuring a narrator who's caustic, ill-tempered, loveable, hilarious, and possibly a murderer.
Another Canadian who's facility with words is astounding is Robertson Davies, I'm working on finishing the Deptford trilogy. Great psychological portraits.
I can feel safe recommending Nabokov's the Defense on a chess site!
Feel free to write about authors or specific pieces of work...I'd like to keep it to non-fiction and perhaps another thread can be started for other kinds of writing if so desired.