4 episodes

Join authors Deesha Philyaw (The Secret Lives of Church Ladies) and Dawnie Walton (The Final Revival of Opal & Nev) for author interviews, book club discussions, and immersive short stories — all celebrating fiction from some of today's most thrilling writers, with an emphasis on spotlighting underrepresented voices. (Photo credits: Vanessa German / Rayon Richards)
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://ursastory.com/join

Ursa Short Fiction Ursa Story Company

    • Arts
    • 3.4 • 130 Ratings

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Join authors Deesha Philyaw (The Secret Lives of Church Ladies) and Dawnie Walton (The Final Revival of Opal & Nev) for author interviews, book club discussions, and immersive short stories — all celebrating fiction from some of today's most thrilling writers, with an emphasis on spotlighting underrepresented voices. (Photo credits: Vanessa German / Rayon Richards)
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://ursastory.com/join

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    William Pei Shih on ‘Happy Family,’ Flawed Characters, and the Messiness of Life

    William Pei Shih on ‘Happy Family,’ Flawed Characters, and the Messiness of Life

    Co-hosts Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton speak with writer William Pei Shih, author of the Ursa Original “Happy Family,” a story about a lost childhood, a struggling restaurant, and a bygone era of Chinatown. (Warning: This episode contains “Happy Family” spoilers.) 

    Read the transcript.

    “Your character has to fail in telling their story,” Shih says. “I think that's one of the beautiful things about fiction. It truly is the messiness of life.”

    Shih’s stories have been published or are forthcoming in The Best American Short Stories 2020, VQR, McSweeney’s, and The Southern Review, among many other publications. He spoke with Philyaw and Walton about his approach to writing and developing characters, how “Happy Family” first came to life, and how hearing the audio version changed his storytelling approach. 

    This episode is sponsored by Catapult: Award-winning classes by writers, for writers. Ursa listeners get 20% off upcoming online classes with the coupon code URSA20. Go to catapult.co/classes.

    Additional production support for this episode by Veronica Smith.

    Episode Links and Reading List: 


    “Happy Family” (Ursa)


    “Enlightenment” (VQR) 


    “Necessary Evils” (Southern Review)


    What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, by Lesley Nneka Arimah


    Cleanness, by Garth Greenwell


    Look How Happy I’m Making You, by Polly Rosenwaike



    More from William Pei Shih: 


    "The Golden Arowana" (The Masters Review), about a precious and rare fish, a young man and his grandmother from China, and the road trip of a lifetime—to Pittsburgh, and what happens when one finds more than they bargained for.


    "My Son," (F(r)iction, Spring 2021), a story focusing on father/son cross-generational and cross-cultural struggles and miscommunications. 

    More stories: https://williampeishih.com/home/publications/


    More from Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton: 


    The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, by Deesha Philyaw


    The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, by Dawnie Walton


    Support Ursa by becoming a Member in Apple Podcasts, or by going to ursastory.com/join
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    Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://ursastory.com/join

    • 42 min
    Story: 'Happy Family,' by William Pei Shih

    Story: 'Happy Family,' by William Pei Shih

    Content warning: This story contains an intense depiction of abuse / physical violence.

    An Ursa original audio story: “Happy Family,” by William Pei Shih. It’s the story of a lost childhood, a struggling restaurant, and a bygone era of Chinatown. 

    Read along at ursastory.com/happy 

    Interview with William Pei Shih.

    “Happy Family”
    Written by William Pei Shih
    Story edited by Dawnie Walton
    Audio story produced, directed, and sound designed by Alicia Qian
    Illustrated by Christina Chung
    Music by Jiro Yoshioka
    Performed by Aria Song
    Audio Engineering: David Verdugo (Demun Studios) and Deon Vozov (LA Voiceover)
    Executive Producers: Dawnie Walton and Mark Armstrong
    Distributed by Lit Hub Radio

    Support Ursa by becoming a Member in Apple Podcasts, or by going to ursastory.com/join
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
    Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://ursastory.com/join

    • 1 hr 8 min
    Introducing Ursa: Why We Love Short Fiction

    Introducing Ursa: Why We Love Short Fiction

    Acclaimed authors Deesha Philyaw (The Secret Lives of Church Ladies) and Dawnie Walton (The Final Revival of Opal & Nev) introduce Ursa Short Fiction, a new anthology podcast dedicated to celebrating short stories, with a spotlight on underrepresented voices. Join us for author interviews, book club chats, and audio stories from some of your favorite writers and emerging talent.
    Transcript: https://ursastory.com/introducing-ursa-short-fiction-podcast/
    Support Ursa: https://ursastory.com/join

    Authors and Books Mentioned in This Episode
    Heads of the Colored People, by Nafissa Thompson-Spires
    How to Sit, by Tyrese Coleman
    The World Doesn’t Require You, by Rion Amilcar Scott
    Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, by ZZ Packer
    The work of J. California Cooper
    The Women of Brewster Place, by Gloria Naylor
    12 Tribes of Hattie, by Ayana Mathis
    The Travelers, by Regina Porter
    Claire of the Sea Light, by Edwidge Danticat
    You are Free, by Danzy Senna
    The Office of Historical Corrections and Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, by Danielle Evans
    The work of Edward P.Jones
    I’m Not Hungry But I Could Eat, by Christopher Gonzalez
    Milk Blood Heat, by Dantiel W. Moniz 

    Writing from Dawnie and Deesha
    Introducing Ursa: A Letter from Co-Founder and Editorial Director Dawnie Walton
    A Love Letter to Short Stories, by Deesha Philyaw
    The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, by Dawnie Walton
    The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, by Deesha Philyaw
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
    Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://ursastory.com/join

    • 28 min
    Member Exclusive: Friday Black Book Club

    Member Exclusive: Friday Black Book Club

    Ursa co-hosts Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton do a deep dive on Friday Black, the critically acclaimed, bestselling short story collection by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah.

    Further reading:
    • Friday Black
    • "The Era" (Guernica, 2018)
    • Music: N-"Nabokov" (YouTube)
    • Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah in The Paris Review (2018)

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5
130 Ratings

130 Ratings

miznoww ,

Happy Family Review

Scarlett's family life was conveyed so excellently that it felt like I could visualize everything. Kudos to the production team, the narrator and the writer!!

DCW_Listener ,

A great listen

Dawnie and Deesha are a pleasure to hear talking about fiction. And with their combined talent and passion for reading and writing, I know they’ll have some amazing guests and pieces to share with us!

AskMateo ,

The short story podcast we've needed!

As an author and longtime lover of literary podcasts, THIS is the short story podcast we've needed. Just two friends (okay, they're also incredibly accomplished writers) chopping it up on a digital porch, and we have the honor of listening in. No pretense. No elitist mumbo jumbo. Just a love of fiction, writing, and uplifiting others. All in the context of short stories, no less! A genre that many don't think sells, or that readers seek. The fact that Deesha's debut collection was only accepted by one publisher is criminal, but I digress...looking forward to more, and very grateful for Ursa!

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