The NEA Big Read Lakeshore, organized by Hope College, and the Eugene Peterson Center for Christian Imagination, a program of Western Theological Seminary, are collaborating to bring award-winning author Sophfronia Scott to Holland.

“An Evening with Sophfronia Scott” will take place on Tuesday, April 25, at 7 p.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall. The event will include a presentation by Scott and a question-and-answer opportunity, as well as hors d’oeuvres. Her books will also be available for purchase.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

Scott will read from her new novel “Wild, Beautiful, and Free” and her award-winning book “The Seeker and the Monk: Everyday Conversations with Thomas Merton.” “Wild, Beautiful, and Free” tells the story of 12-year-old Jeannette, who has been sold into slavery, as she discovers who she is and where she belongs. “The Seeker and the Monk: Everyday Conversations with Thomas Merton” explores Merton's private journals in search of wisdom for how to live in fraught times.

Dr. Winn Collier, who is director of the Eugene Peterson Center for Christian Imagination, noted that as an admirer of Scott’s work he is excited that the center can help bring her to West Michigan for others to experience.

“I first read Sophfronia in one of her essays in Motherwell, and I shared the piece with as many friends as I could,” he said. “With her work on Merton and now her latest novel, I’m so eager to have Sophfronia with us, to hear her voice and marvel at her sentences.”

Dr. Deborah Van Duinen, who is director of the Big Read, is pleased that the two programs are working together a second time to host an outstanding author, building on their debut effort of April 2022.

“As Big Read director, I love collaborating with other organizations and institutions on author events,” said Van Duinen, who is also directs the Little Read and is an associate professor of English education at Hope. “I’m thrilled to be partnering with the Eugene Peterson Center on this event. Last year we collaborated on an author event featuring Leif Enger and it was a huge success. I’m excited for our Hope College community and for Lakeshore readers to learn from Sophfronia.”

Scott grew up in Lorain, Ohio, a hometown she shares with author Toni Morrison. She holds a BA in English from Harvard and an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She began her career as an award-winning magazine journalist for Time, where she co-authored the cover story “Twentysomething,” the first study identifying the demographic group known as Generation X, and People. When her first novel, “All I Need to Get By,” was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2004, she was nominated for best new author at the African American Literary Awards and hailed by Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. of the Harvard University faculty as “potentially one of the best writers of her generation.”

Scott’s other books include “Unforgivable Love,” “Love’s Long Line,” “Doing Business By the Book” and “This Child of Faith: Raising a Spiritual Child in a Secular World,” co-written with her son Tain. Her essays, short stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Yankee Magazine, The Christian Century, North American Review, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Her essays “Hope On Any Given Day,” “The Legs On Which I Move” and “Why I Didn’t Go to the Firehouse” are listed among the Notables in the Best American Essays series.

Scott, who lives in Connecticut, is the recipient of a 2020 Artist Fellowship Grant from the Connecticut Office of the Arts.  She has taught in Regis University’s Mile High MFA program and Bay Path University’s MFA program in creative nonfiction. She’s also delivered craft talks and held workshops at the Yale Writers’ Workshop, Meacham Writers’ Workshop and the Hobart Festival of Women Writers. Currently, she is the founding director of Alma College’s MFA in creative writing, a low-residency graduate program.

Hope College’s NEA Big Read Lakeshore program began in 2014 with the goal to create and foster a culture where reading matters. By bringing the Lakeshore community together around a common book, Big Read Lakeshore uses the shared experience of reading, discussing and exploring the themes of the book as a springboard to listen to and learn from each other.

The NEA Big Read Lakeshore program is made possible in part by a grant from the NEA Big Read, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

The Eugene Peterson Center for Christian Imagination nurtures circles of friendship, contemplative gatherings, theological reflection and art-filled spaces. Through all of the conversations — and as caretakers of Peterson’s letters, journals, and manuscripts — the Peterson Center hopes to bear witness to the God who is the source of everything beautiful, true, and good.

Audience members who need assistance to fully enjoy any event at Hope are encouraged to contact the college’s Events and Conferences Office by emailing or calling 616-395-7222 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Updates related to events are posted when available in the individual listings at

Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., between 10th and 12th streets.