Sue Monk Kidd’s bestselling debut novel, The Secret Life of Bees, has enchanted critics and readers alike, bringing her literary renown and establishing her as one of the most popular writers working today. Taught widely in colleges and high schools, The Secret Life of Bees is Southern storytelling at its finest and is fast becoming a modern classic. The novel spent more than 100 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, has sold over six million copies in the U.S., and has been translated into 36 languages. It was adapted into an award-winning movie starring Dakota Fanning and Paul Bettany as well as a smash off-Broadway musical with book by Lynn Nottage and music by Duncan Sheik. Barnes & Noble listed The Secret Life of Bees as the sixth bestselling book of the decade.
Kidd’s follow-up, The Mermaid Chair, is an “emotionally rich novel, full of sultry, magical descriptions of life in the South” and an exploration of midlife marriage and a woman’s search for self-belonging. It was a #1 New York Times bestseller and spent nine months on the list. Winner of the 2005 Quill Award for General Fiction, The Mermaid Chair has sold over 1.8 million copies, has been translated into more than 20 languages, and was adapted into a television movie.
Kidd followed these novels with Traveling with Pomegranates, a mother-daughter travel memoir coauthored with her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor. Another New York Times bestseller, this wise and revealing memoir relates the stories of two women—a fiftysomething and a twentysomething—each at a crossroads, each on a quest to rediscover herself and one another. It has been called “a probing literary collaboration” by Publishers Weekly and a “stunning account of inner journeys, separate and intertwined” by Booklist.
Her latest novel, The Invention of Wings, published in 2014, was selected for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 and debuted at #1 on The New York Times bestseller list, where it stayed for nine months. This exquisitely written novel is inspired in part by Kidd’s own childhood in the South, and in part by the historical figure of abolitionist and suffragist Sarah Grimke. The Invention of Wings chronicles the relationship between two women who are bonded in childhood—Sarah, the daughter of a wealthy Charleston family, and one of her family’s slaves, Hetty “Handful” Grimke, who yearns for freedom. A triumph of storytelling, The Invention of Wings was hailed as a “textured masterpiece” by NPR and “exhilarating” by The Washington Post. The Chicago Tribune described it as “masterful…a remarkable novel about finding your voice.” It has sold more than a million copies and been translated into 20 languages.
In April 2020 Kidd will release her fourth novel, the highly anticipated The Book of Longings, which imagines the story of a woman named Ana, the wife of Jesus. Set in the first century the novel take Ana’s point of view as a brilliant, daring young woman who defies expectations by engaging in furtive scholarly pursuits. When she meets the eighteen-year-old Jesus, each is drawn to and enriched by the other’s spiritual and philosophical ideas. Grounded in meticulous historical research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus’s life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring account of one woman’s bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place, and culture devised to silence her. In their starred review, Publishers Weekly praised the book as “richly imagined…a vibrant portrait of a woman striving to preserve and celebrate women’s stories—her own and countless others.”
Sue Monk Kidd has received numerous awards and honors, including the 2004 Book Sense Paperback Book of the Year for The Secret Life of Bees and a nomination for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. The Invention of Wings was longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. In 2016, Texas Christian University, Kidd’s alma mater, awarded her an honorary doctorate.
In her lectures, Kidd discusses the themes and meanings of her work; the inspiration for her stories and characters; the experience of becoming a writer; racial and social justice; and the intersection of writing, creativity, and soul. She lives with her husband, Sandy, in North Carolina.