'The Secret Lives of Church Ladies' Wins 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award | Book Pulse

Deesha Philyaw wins the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for The Secret Lives of Church LadiesNorthern Spy by Flynn Berry is the April Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick. ALA released the Top 10 Most Challenged Books this week offering a sobering snapshot of censorship in America.  Brandi Carlile's memoir Broken Horses continues to get raves while Dave Grohl will release a memoir in October. Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize winning The Sympathizer will be developed as a TV series with Park Chan-wook to direct. Plus, a rare 1938 Superman comic sells for record breaking $3.25M.

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Awards & Picks

The 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction was awarded to The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw (West Virginia Univ.). The short story collection was on the 2020 National Book Award shortlist and won the Story Prize last month.The The LA Times talks with Philyaw about how she “decided to write fiction for Black women like her.”

Reese Witherspoon picks Northern Spy by Flynn Berry (Viking) as the April Reese's Book Club pick. USA Today has this pick, plus a list of past titles.

The New York Public Library's Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers selected its class of 2021-2022 Fellows including fiction writers David Wright Faladé, Jonas Hassen Khemiri, Maaza Mengiste, Josephine Rowe, and Madeleine Thien.


The NYT reviews The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock: An Anatomy of the Master of Suspense by Edward White (Norton; LJ Starred Review): “does not offer grand revelation but a provocative new way of thinking about biography.” Also, Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson (Grove Press, Black Cat): “In prose interspersed with a Kendrick Lamar or A Tribe Called Quest lyric here, a scene from ‘Moonlight’ or a Roy DeCarava photograph there, the unnamed narrator tells a story of falling in love, and then fighting to stay there.”

The Washington Post reviews Memories of a Nonviolent Warrior by C.T. Vivian (NewSouth Books; LJ Starred Review): "a concise yet well-documented volume of his work as an activist, civil rights worker, writer and preacher."

The San Francisco Chronicle reviews Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer (MCD: Farrar): “At once enigmatic and fast, obscure and brilliant, “Hummingbird Salamander” celebrates nature while inviting us to contemplate the effects of contamination, pandemics and other crises, and how none of them make us ‘even blink anymore’.”

Entertainment Weekly reviews Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile (Crown), giving it an A grade: ”Carlile writes in a voice that's earthy, frank, endearingly dorky, and open-hearted.” Variety also reviews, calling it: “the best-written, most engaging rock autobiography since her childhood hero, Elton John, published ‘Me.’"

Briefly Noted

ALA released the Top 10 Most Challenged Books Lists this week. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 156 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2020. There are stories in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Seattle Times, and Book & Film Globe calls it “A Sobering Snapshot of American Censorship.”

“Dave Grohl to Publish a Memoir, The Storyteller,” Variety reports: ”From childhood mishaps and adolescent adventures to stories about his time in Nirvana and Foo Fighters, Grohl is promising to cover his life’s craziest and most touching moments.” There is also an 11-minute You-Tube trailer for the book, which will land Oct 5th from Day Street Books.

The Minnesota Star Tribune has a list of 3 great female-centric graphic novels.

The NYPL has 10 Reads for Fans of Made for Love.

Amazon’s Editors’ Picks highlights this week’s best books.

Jennifer McMahon, The Drowning Kind (Gallery), writes “Scary Times Call for Scary Reads” at CrimeReads.

People features “Brooke Baldwin on How Writing Her New Book, Huddle, Influenced Her Decision to Leave CNN.”

The LA Times has an interview with Victoria Chang, about her Anisfield-Wolf Award winning book of poetry Obit (Copper Canyon) and “writing, grief, dark humor and what it’s been like talking about a book about mourning during the pandemic.” Also, The LA Times talks with musician Richard Thompson about his forthcoming memoir, Beeswing: Losing My Way and Finding My Voice 1967–1975 (Algonquin; LJ Starred Review). The Chicago Tribune also has an interview with Thompson.

MentalFloss has “Learn Who's Who in Greek Mythology With a Stylish New Guide Book for Modern Audiences."

"Rare 1938 Superman comic book sells for record $3.25M" reports USA Today.

Authors On Air

NPR’s All Things Considered talks with Morgan Jerkins, Caul Baby (Harper), about her novel, Black motherhood, commodification of Black bodies, and whether she judges her own characters.

NPR’s Fresh Air reviews Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge (Algonquin): “As a novelist, Greenidge, like her main character, is also attracted to the simpler pleasures of the conventional: In Libertie, she's written an old-fashioned, historical novel.”

Deadline reports Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize winning The Sympathizer (Grove; LJ Starred Review) will be developed as a TV Series with Park Chan-wook to direct.

A trailer is out for the AppleTV+ series The Mosquito Coast, based on the book by Paul Theroux.     

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