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The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (Paperback)

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The Secret Lives of Church Ladies Cover Image
$18.99
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(Fiction/Literature)

Staff Reviews


Having grown up in a Mississippi Southern Baptist church, it wasn't until I was a teenager that I saw the secret double lives of some of us. Rebelling against the submit to authority messages on Saturday night, but sitting pious and submissive come Sunday morning services was de rigueur. Deesha Philyaw's book The Secret Lives of Church Ladies gives voice to secret lives that I know for sure are lived and true. The need for acceptance, for absolution, for grace is ever-present in familial relationships as well as those in the church. These short stories are divine.

— Rachel Watkins

Description


***2020 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction***
***2020 Story Prize Finalist
***
***Longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction***
Tender, fierce, proudly black and beautiful, these stories will sneak inside you and take root. Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Triumphant.
Publishers Weekly
Cheeky, insightful, and irresistible. Ms. Magazine
This collection marks the emergence of a bona fide literary treasure. Minneapolis Star Tribune
Full of lived-in humanity, warmth, and compassion. Pittsburgh Current

These are stories about Black women that havent been told with this level of depth, wit, or insight before, so it will not shock me if Oprah gets around to selecting it before the end of the year. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where Black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. The nine stories in this collection feature four generations of characters grappling with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the churchs double standards and their own needs and passions.

There is fourteen-year-old Jael, who has a crush on the preachers wife. At forty-two, Lyra realizes that her discomfort with her own body stands between her and a new love. As Y2K looms, Carolettas same time next year arrangement with her childhood best friend is tenuous. A serial mistress lays down the ground rules for her married lovers. In the dark shadows of a hospice parking lot, grieving strangers find comfort in each other.

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.

About the Author


Deesha Philyaws writing on race, parenting, gender, and culture has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, McSweeneys, the Rumpus, Brevity, TueNight, and elsewhere. Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, she currently lives in Pittsburgh with her daughters.

Praise For…


Beautifully crafted. A lovely collection.
Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist

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

To encounter Deesha Philyaws 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 ofHemming the Water and writer for the Marvel Comics World of Wakanda series


This is no mere collection of sappy romance stories. The love in Philyaws stories runs the gamut from sweet to bitter, sexy to sisterly, temporary to time tested, often with hidden aspects. The word secret in the title is earned, and some of the secrets are downright juicy.
Tara Campbell, author of Midnight at the Organporium, from Barrelhouse magazine


Triumphant. . . . Philyaws stories inform and build on one another, turning her characters private struggles into a beautiful chorus.
Publishers Weekly

A collection of luminous stories populated by deeply moving and multifaceted characters. . . . Tender, fierce, proudly black and beautiful, these stories will sneak inside you and take root.
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Vivid, vibrant stories that will linger on your tongue like sweet tea.
Vox



In this year of constriction and pain, juicy goodness bursts from every page of Deesha Philyaw's debut short story collection. . . . This collection marks the emergence of a bona fide literary treasure.
Minneapolis Star Tribune

Sex, friendship, freedom, and agency are centered throughout this cheeky, insightful, and irresistible new book.
Ms. Magazine

Stunning. . . Philyaws stories are addictive while also laying bare the depth and vulnerability of Black women.
Observer

The church, sexuality, and everyday life come alive in each story bringing readers closer to experiences we can, or have, seen ourselves in.
Electric Lit, 24 New and Forthcoming Books That Celebrate Black Lives

The stories of these women and their friendships come alive, beating with tenderness and imperfection, and build upon one another to create a beautiful melody of female determination.
Amazon Book Review, 12 Must-Read Books by Black Authors Coming in Fall 2020

Full of lived-in humanity, warmth, and compassion.
Pittsburgh Current

These are stories about Black women that havent been told with this level of depth, wit, or insight before, so it will not shock me if Oprah gets around to selecting it before the end of the year.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Incredibly moving.
Pittsburgh City Paper
Product Details
ISBN: 9781949199734
ISBN-10: 1949199738
Publisher: West Virginia University Press
Publication Date: September 1st, 2020
Pages: 192
Language: English