Episode 51 - Deesha Philyaw
Deesha was an absolute pleasure to talk to. She feels like someone you've been knowing for a long time, like the really smart girl from high school who you always knew would be a success.
The accolades keep pouring in for her debut short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies. The collection was published last September, and since then it's received a lot of love from the literary establishment and from readers alike. It was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award in Fiction, a finalist for The Story Prize 2020-21, and longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.
The stories in the book center Black women and girls, their desires, and the Black church. The collection also explores fraught relationships between mothers and daughters. It's a book about women who long to be free, who are tired of being weighed down by the expectations of others and the impossible standards set for them by their families, the church, and society at large.
Deesha and I discussed how she came to write about "church ladies," fantastic first lines, and which stories were the most fun to write.
- what she's hoping to accomplish through adapting these stories for HBO Max
- which book she sees as a template for writing unapologetic Black women
- what she's been working on during the pandemic, such as this awesome story, "I Am Not My Ancestors" (If that phrase bugs you as much as it does me, you will love it!)
During the show, Deesha mentioned a YA novel among her go-to books. The first person to contact us on Twitter or Facebook with the name of that book will win a free copy of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies.
If you have won a ReadMore giveaway in the last 90 days, you are ineligible for this giveaway. If you and I ever closed Smithfield's together, you're probably ineligible. ReadMore doesn't have a friends and family plan! But we'll always have that sweet tea and those delicious bar-b-q sandwiches.