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Open Secrets

New Stories and Essays 

  • Sheila’s new novel, as yet untitled,  has been sold to Penguin Books to come out in 2020
  • A new short story is out in Ellery Queen Magazine called ” The Darling”
  • Coming in Salmagundi’s spring issue ” The Teacher”
  • Review on “Dreaming for Freud” in the Wall Street Journal.
  • A review of Sheila’s story “One Girl” is in the Spring 2018 Antioch Review
  • Chosen for a Wiki “10 Spectacular Books About Sisters”
  • New story in Fiction, no. 63 called “Monsieur Andre”
  • An essay in the summer 2018 issue of The American Scholar called “Diamonds”
  • A story in spring/summer Subtropics  25 called “The Nanny”
  • A story coming in the spring Antioch Review called “One Girl”

It occurs to me that I am america

It Occurs to Me That I Am America

In time for the one-year anniversary of the Trump Inauguration and the Women’s March, this provocative, unprecedented anthology features original short stories from thirty bestselling and award-winning authors.

Now more than ever, we must ask ourselves: Who are the WE in We the People? In It Occurs to Me That I Am America, more than 50 bestselling and award-winning authors and artists consider the fundamental ideals of a free, just, and compassionate democracy through heart-stirring and often provocative fiction and art. I am proud to have contributed a piece to this unprecedented anthology, which is being published by Touchstone Books on January 16, 2018, in support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) upon the one-year anniversary of the Presidential Inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington. 

Learn more and pre-order It Occurs to Me That I Am America at

Sheila’s interview for Once We Were Sisters- Good Grief with Cheryl Jones

Sheila Kohler is now blogging for Psychology Today at:


The Guardian Review

The Telegraph Review

“Young Sheila Kohler abandons the time-warp of 1950s South Africa and heads for Europe on a voyage of self-discovery. Her quest to find out what it is that she desires—a quest that will last decades and is recounted with the seriousness it deserves, lightened with touches of dry comedy—ends in the discovery that she is and has always been a writer. The most striking parts of this rich and poignant memoir—rich above all in sensual experience—reflect on the necessary cruelty of the writer’s art, sacrificing the truth of the world to the truth of fiction.” —J.M. Coetzee, author of Disgrace and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

“Throughout her literary career, Sheila Kohler has obsessively tried to find closure and justice for her sister’s untimely death and, finally, in this memoir she has succeeded in coming to terms with the tragedy by movingly recalling their childhood together and expressing her love for her sister.” —Lily Tuck, National Book Award-winning author of The Double Life of Liliane

“For unto whom much is given, of him shall be much required: this Biblical verse takes on a tragic ring as this memoir of a privileged childhood ends in murder. Sheila Kohler has put together this heartfelt, suspenseful confession with a lifetime’s worth of skill and an abundance of inborn genius.” —Edmund White, author of A Boy’s Own Story

“Sheila Kohler has written a beautiful and disturbing memoir of a beloved sister who died at the age of thirty-nine in circumstances that strongly suggest murder. Like all of Sheila Kohler’s prose work, Once We Were Sisters reveals its story by degrees, amid a richly sensuous milieu of South African white privilege and repression. It is a tragic tale, with echoes of cultural sexism and misogyny, yet a triumphant story of a young woman’s liberation from this culture and her emergence as a writer. Highly recommended.” —Joyce Carol Oates, National Book Award-winning author of Them

“Sheila Kohler’s writing is visually potent, viscerally compelling, and intensely personal. In Once We Were Sisters she conjures a lost world of privilege, violence, and repression that has chilling parallels in contemporary life.” —Rebecca Miller, author of Personal Velocity

“This lean memoir cuts straight to the heart of what it is to love—and lose—a sister. Kohler sidesteps nothing; her private rage, regret, heartbreak, and revelation mingle unforgettably with the public shame of apartheid. Once We Were Sisters is an exquisite and devastating book.” —Tracy K. Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Ordinary Light

“To write a first-rate memoir is to encounter a mystery. In Sheila Kohler’s brilliantly intelligent, beautifully written, sensually detailed, sexy, exquisitely restrained and shocking memoir, there are several mysteries: Why do we act the way we do? Why are we passive when we should be active, and vice versa? What does it take for a young woman to find out who she is? What griefs, what losses must attend that discovery? How to account for the cruelty and self-indulgence of men, or the willed blindness and guilt of women? ‘What is it I have done or failed to do?’ the memoirist keeps asking here, and her responses are unfailingly, stringently honest.” —Phillip Lopate, author of Being With Children