From The American Lives Series
Edited by Tobias Wolff
About Sonja

Sonja Livingston's latest book, The Virgin of Prince Street: Expeditions into Devotion, uses an unexpected return to her childhood church as an occasion to travel through space and time to explore the changes in the larger Church and in her own life. The result is a generous but unflinching look at the shifting Catholic Church and changing concepts of devotion.  

Sonja’s first book,
Ghostbread, won an AWP Book Prize for Nonfiction and has been adopted for classroom use around the nation. Sonja’s two other essay collections, Ladies Night at the Dreamland and Queen of the Fall, combine history, memory and imagination to illuminate the lives of girls and women.  Her writing has been honored with a NYFA Fellowship, an Iowa Review Award, a VanderMey Nonfiction Prize, an Arts & Letters Essay Prize, and grants from Vermont Studio Center and The Deming Fund for Women.

Sonja’s essays appear in outlets such as Salon, LitHub, The Kenyon Review, America, Sojourners and are anthologized in many textbooks on creative writing, including: The Best of Brevity, Contemporary Nonfiction, Short Takes, The Truth of the Matter, The Curious Writer, Poverty/Privilege: A Reader, Brief Encounters, and Waveform: Twenty-First-Century Essays by Women. 



Sonja is a popular speaker who shares her work with book clubs, universities, community centers, church groups, nursing homes and high schools across the country. For more information on readings or to arrange a visit, send an email


Sonja is an associate professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, and teaches in the Postgraduate Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has taught at the University of Memphis and in The Writing Workshops Abroad for the University of New Orleans in Edinburgh, San Miguel de Allende and Cork. She is married to the artist Jim Mott and splits her time between New York State and Virginia. 


The Virgin

of Prince Street


Queen of the Fall

Ladies Night

at the Dreamland

52 Snapshots:

A Memoir Starter Kit


“Livingston’s prose shines.”


Read/Listen to interviews here.
Writing Samples

The Making 

of Saints

On Shame & Writing

Nota Bene:

On the Bodies of Poor Boys


Thumb-Sucking Girl

Holy Water

Nancy Drewing

the Essay

Returning to 

Broken Church

Searching for Mary

A Thousand Mary Doyles