The way this is set up, it relies at its foundation on a purely subjective concept - what is "quality" literature? I consider myself well read, and empathetic. But my favorite literature, which meets my personal criteria for quality, was written by authors like William S. Burroughs, Mickey Spillane and Louis-Ferdinand Céline. Not exactly a collection of empaths or good citizens by standard definitions.
Quality literature is what influential readers reach a inter-subjective conclusion about. So it isn't a law of nature, nor are there objective ways to deduce whether a work is quality literature or not. Still, assuming that not every piece of literature is of quality, and one cannot ever hope to read even a fraction of the books ever written, one has to rely on the taste of other influential readers and writers to shift through the masses of books. The system actually work in its own peculiar way.
All 3 authors you mention are widely regarded as good writers that produced some quality literature.
Notice that the empathy developing ability of reading quality literature, isn't about being nice, or reading nice works by nice authors (Celine as a person was an arrogant anti-semtic asshole by all accounts).
Empathy isn't about feeling sorry for someone, but to understand their situation as they themselves see it. So literature allows the impossible, namely to "see" into a foreign mind and see how it operates, to follow its logic or lack thereof. Literature trains the mind in the reading of other minds, and to see things from their perspective, even if you disagree strongly with it.
Fiction is of course fiction, and the mind William S. Burroughs conjure in "Junkie" is just a fictional construction despite its semi-biographical nature. Still, after reading it you may think that you actually better understand the mind of a unredeemed drug addict, something you may never have experienced in your real life.