Deesha Philyaw

Deesha Philyaw, photo by Vanessa German
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 2020/21 Story Prize, and the 2020 Los Angeles Times Book Prize: Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award in 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.

Philyaw’s work has been listed as Notable in The Best American Essays series, and her writing on race, parenting, gender, and culture has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, McSweeney’s, the Rumpus, Brevity, Dead Housekeeping, Apogee Journal, Catapult, Harvard Review, the Baltimore Review, TueNight, Ebony, Bitch, and on ESPN’s the Undefeated , as well as in various anthologies.

Philyaw is a Kimbilio Fellow and will be the 2022-23 John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi.


selected bibliography

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (2020)

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online resources

Deesha Philyaw’s website
“All the Church Ladies Are Having Secret Sex,” Electric Literature, September 7, 2020
Review of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2020
“A Conversation with Philyaw,” Literary Mama, April 2019

Video: Philyaw reads from The Secret Lives of Church Ladies