Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award

T.C. Boyle Wins Inaugural Prize

August 10, 2016

We are pleased to announce that novelist T.C. Boyle is the winner of the inaugural Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award for his novel, The Harder They Come, published in 2015 by Ecco/HarperCollins. The prize is $25,000.

T.C. Boyle

Two runners-up will each be awarded $1,000:

Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson (William Morrow/HarperCollins)

The First Bad Man by Miranda July (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)

Our esteemed judges:

David Bradley is the author of South Street and the The Chaneysville Incident, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1982. Bradley works primarily in creative nonfiction with pieces in Esquire, Redbook, The New York Times, Philadelphia Magazine, The Pennsylvania Gazette, The Nation. He won a 2014 O. Henry Award for "You Remember the Pin Mill" and the 2015 Notting Hill Editions Essay Prize for "Eulogy for Nigger."

Jocelyn A. Chadwick is a former professor currently guest lecturing and teaching seminars at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is the author of The Jim Dilemma: Reading Race in Huckleberry Finn and Using Literature in the Context of Literacy Instruction. Chadwick currently serves as the Vice President of the National Council of Teachers of English and is an expert consultant for and contributor to NBC News Education.

Shelley Fisher Fishkin is a Professor of English at Stanford University where she is the Joseph S. Atha Professor in the Humanities and Director of American Studies. Fishkin's extensive work includes Lighting Out for the Territory: Reflections on Mark Twain and American Culture and Writing America: Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee.

Award ceremony will be held at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse at Lincoln Center in New York City on September 26, 2016. For details and ticket info, click here.



Submission Guidelines and Information


The Mark Twain House & Museum presents the inaugural year of the Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award in September 2016. The award is $25,000, given to a fictional work published in a calendar year that best captures a distinctly American voice. Two runners-up will each receive $1,000.

The contest will promote Mark Twain’s legacy by acknowledging a work that speaks in a uniquely American voice. The winner is not required to imitate the style of Mark Twain or to write about Mark Twain.


The Mark Twain House and Museum will accept submissions each year from June 1st through December 1st.

Submission checklist:

1.     Three copies of a single published book must be sent to:

The Mark Twain House

65 Forest Street

Hartford, CT 06105

2.     Completed submission form. Click here to download.

3.     $50 entry fee (check or money order made payable to: Mark Twain House)

Submissions are accepted from publishers, authors, librarians, agents, instructors, and “others” as indicated on the submission form. Please include the $50 application fee.

Contact information for both the publisher who is submitting and the author must be included on the submission form (name, address, phone, and email).

Novels and short-story collections will both be accepted. Self-published works will not be accepted.

Judging Process:

The judges for the competition will be a panel of distinguished scholars and authors. Judging will continue several months into each year before the finalists are named. The Mark Twain House & Museum announces finalists in early summer, announces winner in early fall, with an award ceremony to be held in the fall.

Additional information:

Email us with questions.

Author and Mark Twain House trustee David Baldacci is the impetus and benefactor of the competition and award. Trustee Roger Michel is the impetus and benfactor of the award ceremony.


From our first press release in 2015:

The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut announces the creation of The Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award. This prestigious new writing honor, which will come with a significant financial award, will be presented to the author whose book, published in the previous calendar year best embodies an "American voice," not unlike Twain's work on Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Cindy Lovell, Executive Director of The Mark Twain House & Museum said, "Mark Twain's uniquely American voice still resonates with readers around the globe. We are proud to establish this award to honor other authors whose work speaks in similar ways."

Best-selling author David Baldacci, a trustee on the Board of The Mark Twain House & Museum, and a driving force behind this new award said, "I can think of no better writer to honor in this way than Mark Twain, the man who was the voice of American literature."




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