​Author of Award-Winning ‘The Secret Lives of Church Ladies’ Gives Reading at ASU

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By Hazel Scott/ASU

Author, columnist and public speaker, Deesha Philyaw, will be the keynote speaker for ASU’s Virtual Art  Talk Back on April 13 at 11 a.m. on Zoom. 

Philyaw will read from her award-winning book, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, required reading for ASU students taking English 132.

“She will read from her book and actively engage students during a question-and-answer session. The event is designed to build community and to promote a sense of belonging while students are reading the common core reader,” said Dr. Rolanda Horn, Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Coordinator in the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

Reviewing her book, Philyaw once said, “It matters that these women are Black, but there are also connection points for people who are not Black. We don’t have to erase Blackness to recognize the universality of Black stories.”

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 the 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. 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.

The book, Horn noted, has won several awards, including but not limited to, the 2020 Los Angeles Times Book Prize,  the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award,  the 2020/2021 Story Prize, and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction.

“It was announced that The Secret Lives of Church Ladies is being adapted for an HBO series,” Horn added.

Some of Philyaw’s other publications include Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households After Divorce,  written in collaboration with her ex-husband; When the Skeleton in the Family Closet is a Nazi;  and What Else Black Moms Know: How to Parent Beyond Stereotypes.  In addition to all of her accomplishments, Philyaw is also the founding editor of the 1839 Magazine.

The reading is presented by QEP in collaboration with several  ASU  departments, including the Office of Academic Affairs, the Department of Student Affairs, and the Department of Languages and Literatures.

The event is free but preregistration is required. To register, visit