In the first published review of Jim Lewis’sGhosts of New York, Kirkus Reviews finds the novel “reads like a striking literary version of the movie My Dinner with Andre,” with writing that is “beautiful, crisp, and keen-eyed.”
With wintry days of reading on the horizon, West Virginia University Press is pleased to make it easy to get complimentary access to two of our highly anticipated spring books. Use your free NetGalley account to read Shaun Slifer’s So Much to Be Angry About: Appalachian Movement Press and Radical DIY Publishing and Jim Lewis’s novel Ghosts of New York. Like what you’ve read? Then consider reviewing it on a site like Goodreads—authors will appreciate the positive word-of-mouth, and so will we.
TIME magazine includesAppalachian Reckoning in a roundup of responses to Hillbilly Elegy keyed to the release of the film adaptation. Coeditor Meredith McCarroll talks with the podcast Appodlachia, and the book earns a mention in Los Angeles Magazine.
As part of its story “The Battle of Blair Mountain Was the Largest Labor Uprising in US History,” Teen Vogueprofiles Charles B. Keeney, author of The Road to Blair Mountain. Keeney’s book is excerpted in 100 Days in Appalachia.
My colleagues and I are excited to share the news that West Virginia University Press’s book The Secret Lives of Church Ladies is one of five finalists for the National Book Award in fiction. Author Deesha Philyaw will be part of the finalists’ reading hosted by the New School on November 10, and the awards ceremony itself—referred to by former emcee Mika Brzezinski and others as “the Oscars without money”—will be held on November 18. Both events will be livestreamed, and I hope you’ll consider joining the remote festivities.
I don’t think it overstates things to say that this is the biggest development in our press’s history, and the wider world has taken notice. As a headline from the Washington Post puts it, the “finalists are a strikingly fresh group,” and Vox goes further, noting that “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies comes from West Virginia University Press, meaning we get the unusual sight of a small university press book in the fiction finals.” I was fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with Publishers Weekly about publishing a finalist, and about how Deesha’s book—a widely praised work by one of the region’s most highly regarded Black writers—fits into our broader publishing program at WVU. News of our book’s inclusion in the awards cohort is also reported by the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere—all signs, I think, of WVU Press’s wide-reaching public engagement on behalf of our university and state.
I’m deeply grateful to Deesha, to the press’s board and small staff, and to all of you for your support as we continue to grow.
Deesha Philyaw’s book is also covered in Vanity Fair (where it’s recommended by Roxane Gay) and public radio stations WESA in Pittsburgh and WYPR in Baltimore. It makes the Buzzfeed list “38 Great Books to Read This Fall,” and is called “an unforgettable look inside the hearts of Black women” in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Congratulations to author Deesha Philyaw!
Anthony Harkins and Meredith McCarroll’s Appalachian Reckoning is winner of the Walter and Lillian Lowenfels Criticism Award from the American Book Awards, as reported in LitHub and elsewhere. The release of the Hillbilly Elegy movie trailer sparks attentionfor our book in Columbus Alive and the Hill.
It’s the season for hair-raising stories. Use the discount code HAUNTING30 at checkout on our website, wvupress.com, for 30% off these five fiction and folklore titles that will leave you with the heebie-jeebies.
Diana Mazzella, one of many publishing professionals at our university who works for units other than WVU Press, is editor at West Virginia University Magazine. In this guest post, she describes the impact of the global health emergency on her work.
In 2014 when I became managing editor of West Virginia University Magazine, I didn’t really know what we’d achieve. I just knew we needed to make goals, meet targets, and advance, advance, advance.
When the pandemic struck, the magazine was as ready as it was going to be to meet this challenge after years of our staff making plans for an online future.
We hadn’t prepared for all of this, of course, and it affected us like everyone else: cuts and losses and uncertainty. We had been preparing for years to meet our digital-native audience where they were. And now we were all-digital much sooner than we had imagined.Read More »
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies receives two glowing endorsements from major newspapers. “These are stories about Black women that haven’t been told with this level of depth, wit, or insight before,” says Tony Norman in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “so it will not shock me if Oprah gets around to selecting it before the end of the year.” And in an equally enthusiastic review, Marion Winik writes for the Minneapolis Star Tribune: “In this year of constriction and pain, juicy goodness bursts from every page of Deesha Philyaw’s debut short story collection. . . . This collection marks the emergence of a bona fide literary treasure.”
Previously the recipient of a starred review in Kirkus, Philyaw’s book makes another appearance in the magazine as one of four “must-read” story collections highlighted in its fall preview issue. It is also recommended on the Kirkus podcast, and called “cheeky, insightful, and irresistible” in Ms. Magazine. The free weekly Pittsburgh City Paper has twopieces on Philyaw’s “incredibly moving” book, which is excerpted in Electric Lit.
Radical Hope is lauded in AEJMC: “Startlingly succinct, yet resonant with raw emotion,” it is “required reading for those of us struggling to figure out how to adjust and balance our work this fall.” Author Kevin Gannon is featured in an Inside Higher Ed piece about faculty responses to the Jacob Blake shooting.Read More »
Praised by Kirkus for its “impassioned and hard-fought sense of self and place,” Joanna Eleftheriou’s This Way Back—a highly anticipated memoir-in-essays from West Virginia’s series In Place—will be published October 1.
If you live, as I do, in a world where an overabundance of food is more a plague than hunger, you might be given to scrutinizing ingredient lists, and so have seen the words carob bean gum before tearing the plastic wrapper from, say, an ice cream sandwich, or the foil from a tub of cream cheese. Small quantities of carob bean gum do the trick, and so this natural stabilizer appears at the ingredient list’s end, the part that even serious health food nuts expect to find uninterpretable (for me, it’s a list of plants I can’t quite place, and words I remember from high school chemistry). Carob bean gum sounds harmless, natural, salubrious, even—beans healthier than meat, carobs healthier than sweets—and, indeed, harmless the carob bean is. Such harmlessness is all most of us want to ascertain when we venture into the ingredient list’s largely chemical tail. I have never made the effort to learn what lecithin is, though I often see the word—ditto for guar gum, potassium sorbate, xanthan, and xylitol. There is a limit to how much thought we can devote to the origin of our foods, to their ingredients’ history.Read More »
Hailed by Electric Lit as one of “24 New and Forthcoming Books That Celebrate Black Lives,” The Secret Lives of Church Ladies is Deesha Philyaw’s “tender, fierce, proudly black and beautiful” (Kirkus, starred review) debut collection. Here Philyaw talks with Holly Mitchell of Vesto PR.
When did you start writing this book?
The first story I completed was “Eula,” and I started it in 2014. But at that time, I didn’t think of it as the start of a collection. There were other stories, like “Jael,” that started with just a name or an idea or a line of dialogue that I sat with for a few years before developing them as stories.
At what point did you know your focus would be on church ladies?
In 2007, I started working on a novel in which the main character is a church lady, a pastor’s wife. I worked on the novel off and on for the next eight or nine years, but I just kept stalling. From time to time, I’d turn my attention to short stories, and they all featured a church lady or someone who is what I call church lady adjacent, meaning there’s someone she’s close to who is heavily influenced by the church. I grew up in the church, and these were the women who informed my understanding of womanhood and how to be (or not be) in the world. Although I wasn’t surprised that they showed up on the page, it wasn’t intentional, at that point.Read More »