THE SECRET LIVES OF CHURCH LADIES won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2020/2021 Story Prize, and the 2020 LA Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction.

Available through West Virginia University Press

The nine stories in THE SECRET LIVES OF CHURCH LADIES  feature four generations of characters grappling with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church’s double standards and their own needs and passions.

With their secret longings, new love, and forbidden affairs, these church ladies are as seductive as they want to be, as vulnerable as they need to be, as unfaithful and unrepentant as they care to be, and as free as they deserve to be.

What others are saying about SECRET LIVES of CHURCH LADIES

“To encounter Deesha Philyaw’s work is to encounter contemporary folktales. They are the stories of southern customs and mores and of voices over the back fence. The daughters and granddaughters of Toni Cade Bambara and Bebe Moore Campbell readers need this book.”

– Yona Harvey
author of Hemming the Water
writer for the Marvel Comics World of Wakanda series

“Our new decade deserves a new literary force with major literary skills. Deesha Philyaw uses the comic, the allegorical, and the geographic to examine black intimacies and black secrets. Her work is as rigorous as it is pleasurable to read.”

– Kiese Laymon
author of HEAVY

"Marks the emergence of a bona fide literary treasure."

— Marion Winik, The Star Tribune

.:  events  :.

Story Studio (Facebook Live)

Story Studio (Facebook Live)

StoryStudio Chicago Pajama Seminar: Sex, Lies, and Writing the Truth
Wednesday, June 2, 2021 | 8-10 PM ET
Facebook Live

Oberlin (live & in person)

Oberlin (live & in person)

Oberlin
June 14 & 15, 2021

White Whale Reading (virtual)

White Whale Reading (virtual)

WVU / White Whale Reading
Wednesday, June 16, 2021 | 7 PM ET

For inquiries regarding Deesha’s forthcoming books, please contact Deesha’s Mariner publicist
Eliza Rosenberry at eliza.rosenberry@harpercollins.com.

* *

For inquiries regarding film/TV rights, please contact
Becca Rodriguez at becca@thisiscurate.com
.

* *

For inquiries regarding The Secret Lives of Church Ladies,
please contact Deesha’s WVU Press publicist
Jeremy Wang-Iverson at jeremy@vestopr.com
.

* *

For speaking engagements,  please contact
Anya Backlund at anya@blueflowerarts.com.

* *

For all other inquiries, please contact
Danielle Chiotti at danielle@upstartcrowliterary.com.

.:  Speaking / Reading Topics  :.

  • First, Do No Harm: Writing About Journeys Not Your Own
  • Good Girls Don’t. Black Girls Will: Black Women, Sex and the Black Church
  • Ain’t I a Mommy?: Narratives of Motherhood and Race
  • The Mythical Sisterhood of Black and White Women … and 10 Ways to Move Forward
  • The Patchwork Quilt Writing Career: How Not to be a Starving Artist
  • Choosing You, Telling the Truth: Encouragement for Women in Transition
  • Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive After Divorce
  • Co-Parenting a Child Who is Adopted
  • Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Birth Mom?
  • Supporting Your Child’s Interest in Her Origins

    Book Deesha through her CCMNT Speakers listing.

.:  Interactive Workshop Topics Include  :.

  • Choosing You, Telling the Truth: A Writing Workshop for Women in Transition
  • Let’s Write About Sex, Baby
  • Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive After Divorce
  • Co-Parenting a Child Who is Adopted
  • Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Birth Mom?: Supporting Your Child’s Interest in Her Origins
  • Write Your D*mned Book Proposal Already!
  • From Idea to Publication: Starting & Sustaining Your Book Project
  • How to Pitch for Publication
  • How to Land an Agent

.:  One-on-One Consultations Include  :.

  • Write Your D*mned Book Proposal Already!
  • From Idea to Publication: Starting & Sustaining Your Book Project
  • How to Pitch for Publication
  • How to Land an Agent

.:  about  :.

Deesha Philyaw, photo by Vanessa German

Deesha Philyaw’s debut short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2020/2021 Story Prize, and the 2020 LA Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies focuses on Black women, sex, and the Black church, and is being adapted for television by HBO Max with Tessa Thompson executive producing. Deesha is also a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow and a Baldwin for the Arts Fellow.

Her debut novel, The True Confessions of First Lady Freeman, is forthcoming from Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, in 2025.
 

Deesha Philyaw’s debut short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2020/2021 Story Prize, and the 2020 LA Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies focuses on Black women, sex, and the Black church, and is being adapted for television by HBO Max with Tessa Thompson executive producing. Deesha is also a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow and the 2022-2023 John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi.

.:  featured work  :.

See more of Deesha’s work through Contently.

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