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The Secret Lives of Church Ladies


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Table of Contents

  • Eula
  • Not-Daniel
  • Dear Sister
  • Peach Cobbler
  • Snowfall
  • How to Make Love to a Physicist
  • Jael
  • Instructions for Married Christian Husbands
  • When Eddie Levert Comes
  • Acknowledgments

About the Author

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


"Triumphant. . . . Philyaw's 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."
"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. . . Philyaw's stories are addictive while also laying bare the depth and vulnerability of Black women."
"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
"Full of lived-in humanity, warmth, and compassion."
Pittsburgh Current

"These are stories about Black women that haven't 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

"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"
"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"
"This is no mere collection of sappy romance stories. The love in Philyaw's 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

"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 and writer for the Marvel Comics World of Wakanda series

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