The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw has won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.
PEN/Faulkner is a nonprofit literary organization that promotes a lifelong love of reading and a connection to writing through public events, in-school education, and public promotion of exceptional literary achievement. The PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction is one of the highest honors available to American fiction writers.
This year’s judges, Charles Finch, Bernice L. McFadden, and Alexi Zentner said “In The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, her masterful debut collection of stories, Deesha Philyaw speaks in the funny, tender, undeceived voices of her title characters, who have more in common perhaps even than they know, from love to loss to God,” said this year’s judges in a prepared statement. “In the group portrait that emerges, Philyaw gives us that rarest and most joyful fusion–a book that combines the curious agility of the best short fiction with the deep emotional coherence of a great novel.”