The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
by Deesha Philyaw
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
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 church’s double standards and their own needs and passions.
There is fourteen-year-old Jael, who has a crush on the preacher’s wife. At forty-two, Lyra realizes that her discomfort with her own body stands between her and a new love. As Y2K looms, Caroletta’s “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.
Paperback | 189 pages | West Virginia University Press; 1st edition | 2020
Deesha Philyaw’s debut short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the 2020/2021 Story Prize, and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction and a 2020 LA Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. Deesha is also a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow.