West Virginia University Press

National Book Awards longlists Deesha Philyaw’s debut for top fiction prize [Update: Now a finalist!]

By September 23, 2020November 1st, 2020No Comments
Deesha Philyaw at The Frick in Pittsburgh, August 28, 2020. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Pittsburgh City Paper)

By Jeremy Wang-Iverson

[Update: The Secret Lives of Church Ladies is a finalist for the National Book Award! The ceremony will be held on 11/18/20.]

Deesha Philyaw’s virtual tour for The Secret Lives of Church Ladies – longlisted for the National Book Award in fiction – begins today at Malaprop’s, with a dozen events this fall at independent bookstores and festivals around the country.

“Indie bookstores shape so much of what we do, and never more than with Deesha Philyaw’s The Secret Lives of Church Ladies,” said Derek Krissoff, director of West Virginia University Press. “And I like to think the sensibility of indies crept into how we published it.”

The short story collection – Philyaw’s fiction debut – is currently in its third printing with an audio version due from Tantor Media in December. Philyaw is represented by Danielle Chiotti at Upstart Crow Literary.

Wednesday, September 23, 6pm ET
Malaprop’s Bookstore (with Nafissa Thompson-Spires)
Register here

Tuesday, September 29, 7pm ET
Penguin Bookshop (with Yona Harvey)
Register here

Wednesday, September 30, 7pm ET
Source Booksellers & The Tuxedo Project (with Bridgett Davis)
Register here

Sunday, October 4, 12pm ET
Brooklyn Book Festival (with Marie-Helene Bertino, Sarah Gerard, Peter Kispert, and Kendall Storey.)
Register here

Thursday, October 8, 7:30 PM ET
Special event with Honorée Fanonne Jeffers.
Register here

Saturday, October 10, 5:15pm ET
Southern Festival of Books (with Ashleigh Bryant Phillips
Register here

Tuesday, October 13
Charis Books and More (with Tamara Winfrey-Harris)
Register here

Deesha Philyaw reads a section from “When Eddie Levert Comes,” the final story in The Secret Lives of Church Ladies. Electric Lit published the story with an introduction from Rion Amilcar Scott, who said “In another, lesser story, the soul singer shows up bathed in soft, hazy light, a magical deus ex machina delivering mother and daughter from their emotional wreckage. That would be an easy bow to wrap around the story. What Philyaw gives us here is more complex, a reckoning that is ultimately more beautiful.”

Saturday, October 17, 1pm ET
Brattleboro Literary Festival (with Kelli Jo Ford)
Register here

Sunday, October 18, 5pm ET
Free Association Reading at City of Asylum
Register here

Thursday, October 22, 6pm ET
Loyalty Bookstores (with Adam Smyer)
Register here

Friday, October 23
Union Ave Books & The Bookshop at the Bottom
TBA

Wednesday, October 28
Greenlight Bookstore (with Kiese Laymon)
Register here

Monday, November 2, 6-10pm
The Revival: A Virtual Celebration (with Kiese Laymon)
TBA

Saturday, November 14
Texas Book Festival
TBA

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies playlist, 30 songs selected by Deesha Philyaw, starting off with Nina Simone’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine

Deesha Philyaw’s writing on race, parenting, gender, and culture has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington PostMcSweeney’s, the RumpusBrevityApogee Journal, Barrelhouse, Baltimore Review, Cheat River Review, Electric Literature, Harvard Review, and elsewhere. Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, she currently lives in Pittsburgh with her daughters.  Visit her website: deeshaphilyaw.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @DeeshaPhilyaw.