Deesha Philyaw’s debut short-story collection took the literary world by storm in 2020. Now she’s signed a 7-figure deal for her next two works of fiction, the Associated Press reports.
Mariner Books will publish Philyaw’s first novel, The True Confessions of First Lady Freeman, in 2025. The novel, a satire, will follow the leader of a large church.
It’s a subject that Philyaw knows well. She published her fiction debut, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, in 2020; the book followed Black women and their relationship with religion. The story collection was published by West Virginia University Press and became a breakout hit, winning the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Story Prize and named as a finalist for the National Book Award.
In a starred review, a critic for Kirkus wrote of the book, “Tender, fierce, proudly Black and beautiful, these stories will sneak inside you and take root.” An HBO Max series adaptation of the collection, produced by actor Tessa Thompson, is in the works.
Mariner will also publish another story collection from Philyaw, titled Girl, Look. The press told the AP that the book will provide “a vivid snapshot of the interior lives of Black women across generations, drawing readers to consider Black women and girls’ vulnerabilities, invisibility, and beautiful contradictions, in a post-COVID, post-Breonna Taylor world.”
Michael Schaub is a contributing writer.