An NPR Best Book of 2017
"These accounts are brief, vivid portraits of women in the 'spiritual avant-garde' . . . and [Shirk's] wide-ranging curiosity delights." ―The New Yorker
Adrian Shirk's debut is... a fascinating memoir about the author's own search for truth and community. Shirk is a generous writer whose penchant for detail and poetic observation will surprise even the staunchest skeptic.”—NPR
And Your Daughters Shall Prophesy is a hybrid memoir exploring American women and their religions, weaving connections between Adrian Shirk’s own varied spiritual experiences and the prophetesses, feminists, and spiritual icons who have shaped this country.
Shirk collects the histories of astrologers, faith healers, preachers, priestesses, mambos, and mediums who’ve had to find their own ways toward divinity outside prescribed patriarchal orders. Each woman represents a pathway for Shirk’s own spiritual inquiries. She introduces us to the New Orleans high priestess Marie Laveau, the pop New Age pioneer Linda Goodman, the prophetic vision of intersectionality as preached by Sojourner Truth, “saint” Flannery O’Connor, and so many more.
Through her journey, Shirk discovers that, as the culture wars flatten religious discourse and shred institutional trust, more and more Americans are yearning for alternative, individualized, feminist routes through religion. And women, having spent so much time at the margins of religious discourse, illuminate its darkened corners.
And Your Daughters Shall Prophesy is a beacon to those who are searching for a spirituality of resistance, for an unsteady truth. It draws a line from our own era of unrest to the women who came before us, those fascinating innovators, boundary crossers, paradoxes, and radical justice seekers.
"The book doubles as a catalogue of America’s 'divergent prophetesses' such as Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, the astrologer Linda Goodman, and the silver-tongued evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, who faked her own kidnapping to spend five weeks with her lover. These accounts are brief, vivid portraits of women in the 'spiritual avant-garde' . . . and [Shirk's] wide-ranging curiosity delights." ―The New Yorker
Adrian Shirk's debut is a lyrical pilgrimage through faith traditions and the stories of the female spiritual leaders, astrologers and preachers who helped shape America's religious identity. It's also a fascinating memoir about the author's own search for truth and community. Shirk is a generous writer whose penchant for detail and poetic observation will surprise even the staunchest skeptic.”— Juan Vidal, NPR
"A book with such a wide range of subjects might be written by numerous authors, but Shirk authors this collection solo, occasionally adopting different styles and voices . . . Readers could pick and choose essays, but they would be doing themselves a disservice, as the panoply of writing also serves as a memoir of Shirk’s life and thought."―Booklist
"Shirk writes with sincerity as she calmly details events, observations, and conjectures. In these stirring vignettes, she mixes historical accounts, interpretations, and fictionalized encounters to provide insight into her personal journey tracing the steps of American women who have sought out an alternative spirituality."―Publishers Weekly
"And Your Daughters Shall Prophesy is both concerned with what we know too much of―the age-old stories of patriarchal systems stifling the contributions and achievements of American female mystics, religious leaders, and thinkers―and with what we know too little of. Shirk's book is a tender, nuanced search not just for reliable biography, but for a depth of gaze into what those women did, felt, and thought." ―Diagram
"By highlighting women like voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, acclaimed astrologer Linda Goodman, the clairvoyant Fox Sisters, and the revolutionary Sojourner Truth, Shirk affirms the power of women’s voices and visions." ―Signature
“And Your Daughters Shall Prophesy is the perfect hybrid of memoir and history. A stunning literary debut that will inspire you to reimagine everything you thought you knew about religion and politics in America. Here, feminism and God, poetic clarity and mental illness, love and spiritual questing, all come together like old friends who’ve missed each other for too long. Adrian Shirk is one of the great millennial thinkers. Read this book and be exhilarated.” —Ariel Gore, author of We Were Witches
“Adrian Shirk’s ingenious book And Your Daughters Shall Prophesy carries her reader through the wildest ride America has to offer: her religions. Here the Spiritualists’ dead, the pageantry of Voudou, the literature and Liturgy of Catholicism meet civil rights, social justice, feminism, ancient blood rituals, and tales of how Hollywood helped birth the first Pentecostal megachurch. Shirk makes all of it magnificently personal and thrilling. Like the best of Patti Smith’s Just Kids, Shirk has a bold and irresistible story to tell.” —Samantha Hunt, author of The Dark Dark and Mr. Splitfoot
“This book is a pilgrimage. It takes us across the country, following in the footsteps of women who heard callings, strange knocks on the walls, and the voice of God. These spiritual geniuses shaped America’s path, and were often disregarded as kooks or charlatans by both the religious and secular world. Shirk treats these women with compassion and restores their dignity, while also candidly and with good humor exploring her own religious questions. This is a beautiful book written with great wit and a tremendous intelligence.” —Jessa Crispin, author of The Dead Ladies Project and Why I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto, founder of Bookslut