'The Secret Lives of Church Ladies' by Deesha Philyaw Wins 2020 Story Prize | Book Pulse

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw wins the 2020 Story Prize, which awards a $20,000 prize to collections of short fiction. Author Norton Juster, best known for The Phantom Tollbooth and The Dot and the Line, has died at age 91. The Off-Broadway opening for Blindness, an immersive audio adaptation of the book by José Saramago, is set for April 2. Adaptations in the works include an animated series based on the graphic novel series Slam! co-creted by Pamela Ribon and Veronica Fish, and a series based on The Wives by Tarryn Fisher. Plus, the Loanstars April list is up, and EarlyWord's GalleyChat for March is out.

Want to get the latest book news delivered to your inbox each day? Sign up for our daily Book Pulse newsletter.

Remembering Norton Juster

Author Norton Juster has died at age 91. Known best for The Phantom Tollbooth and The Dot and the Line, his work appealed to children as well as adults, as a 1961 NYT review noted: "Most books advertised for 'readers of all ages' fail to keep their promise. But Norton Juster’s amazing fantasy has something wonderful for anybody old enough to relish the allegorical wisdom of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and the pointed whimsy of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’"

"His singular quality was being mischievous," Juster's friend and the illustrator of The Phantom Tollbooth, Jules Feiffer, said in a statement. Children's book author Mo Willems said on Twitter: "Norton’s greatest work was himself: a tapestry of delightful tales."

There are numerous obituaries, including in the NYT, The Washington Post, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, and NPR.


NPR reviews Cosmogony: Stories by Lucy Ives (Soft Skull: Penguin): "Ives — this is a compliment — is a real literary weirdo, and her stories are strange without ever performing their strangeness." Also, Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green (Celadon: Macmillan): "...on its first page readers are already treated to the stranger-than-fiction language of real people finding themselves in the middle of a horror show they never signed up for."

The NYT reviews The Recent East by Thomas Grattan (MCD: Macmillan): "As in many great novels, time is perhaps its most magnetic character. Our lives are time spent, and it’s a deep, expansive pleasure to spend a little of ours as these characters spend their own." Also, The Arsonists' City by Hala Alyan (HMH): "And when plumbing the intricacies of race and womanhood, Alyan turns paragraphs into poetry." The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard (Penguin Classics; Reissue): "It's a novel… about our gorgeous and distressing human confidence, the way we march around, plucky protagonists in our minds, armed with horrifyingly partial knowledge of the motivations of those around us."

The Washington Post reviews The Scapegoat by Sara Davis (FSG: Macmillan): "Despite moments of 'Redrum'-like excess, 'Scapegoat' is breathtakingly seductive: a noir dream watched through a handheld camera."

Briefly Noted

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw (West Virginia Univ.) wins the 2020 Story Prize. Watch readings by and interviews with the three finalists here.

The Loanstars April list is up.

EarlyWord's GalleyChat for March is out.

Tor.com looks at the new sci-fi books out this month.

Bitch Media lists "7 YA Books Feminists Should Read in March."

BuzzFeed suggests 14 books out this week.

The NYT recommends several new titles of interest.

LJ offers read-alikes for The Rose Code by Kate Quinn (William Morrow; LJ starred review), the top holds title of the week. Plus, Barbara Hoffert has new Prepub Alert columns

"Scribd Audio Launches with 40 Titles." Publishers Weekly has details.

Entertainment Weekly excerpts the first pages of Locke & Key/The Sandman Universe: Hell & Gone #1 by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW). It's out April 14.

CrimeReads has an excerpt of Hostage by Clare Mackintosh (Sourcebooks). It's due out June 22.

Tor.com excerpts Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier (HMH), which is due out Nov. 9.

"I’m very interested in how humans get power, use it, abuse it and lose it," says Imbolo Mbue, How Beautiful We Were (Random House), in an interview with the L.A. Times. She also has a conversation with Patricia Engel, Infinite Country (Avid Reader: S. & S.) in Entertainment Weekly.

Engel is also interviewed by Jane Ciabattari at Lit Hub.

Electric Lit speaks with Jess Zimmerman about Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology (Beacon).

The NYT profiles Harlan Coben, whose 33rd novel, Win (Grand Central: Hachette), is out next week. Also, a chat with Phillip Kennedy Johnson, whose run writing Superman begins this month.

Amazon interviews Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Committed (Grove).

Smithsonian Magazine talks to Walter Isaacson about The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race (S. & S.).

Megan Nolan discusses Acts of Desperation (Little, Brown: Hachette) with Entertainment Weekly

Essence interviews poet Jasmine Mans, Black Girl, Call Home (Berkley: Penguin).

"Every immigrant has an amazing story, even if they come from a modest background," says Chang-rae Lee, My Year Abroad (Riverhead: Penguin), in an interview with The Rumpus.

Patricia Lockwood, No One Is Talking About This (Riverhead: Penguin), shares influential memes, images, and other digital files for the Guernica "Miscellaneous Files" column.

The Book Marks "Questionnaire" goes to Robert Kolker, Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family (Doubleday: Random House; LJ starred review).

Kate Washington, Already Toast: Caregiving and Burnout in America (Beacon), describes the power of community care at Time.

BOMB interviews Naima Coster, What's Mine and Yours (Grand Central: Hachette).

Vanity Fair speaks with Rebecca Solnit about her first memoir, Recollections of My Nonexistence (Viking: Penguin).

Brit Bennett speaks with the T Magazine book club about Passing by Nella Larsen.

Authors on Air

The Off-Broadway opening for Blindness, an immersive audio adaptation of the book by José Saramago, is set for April 2. It's one of the first the first productions to open in NYC since before the pandemic. The NYT has details.

An animated series adaptation of the graphic novel series Slam! co-creted by Pamela Ribon and Veronica Fish is in the works at HBO Max. Also, Amazon Studios is developing a series adaptation of The Wives by Tarryn Fisher. Based on a pilot developed by NBC last year, Peacock has order a series of Dan Brown’s Langdon, based on his book The Lost Symbol. Deadline has news on all.

NPR's Fresh Air interviews Katie Engelhart, The Inevitable: Dispatches on the Right to Die (St. Martin's: Macmillan; LJ starred review). 

Tim Harford, The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics (Riverhead: Penguin), discusses the evolution of stats on the Keen On podcast.

Slate's Working podcast speaks with narrator Abby Craden about recording nearly 400 audiobooks.

Dantiel W. Moniz talks with the WMFA podcast about Milk Blood Heat (Grove; LJ starred review). 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones, Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual (Penguin Life), appears on the Drew Barrymore Show today.

Want to get the latest book news delivered to your inbox each day? Sign up for our daily Book Pulse newsletter.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing