New York, NY –  The Mark Twain House & Museum is known for hosting exciting author events on site in Hartford, Connecticut, but on Monday, September 26 some 75 guests were treated to an off-site gala at Lincoln Center where T.C. Boyle received the inaugural Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award, which carried a $25,000 prize.

Twain House trustee David Baldacci funded and presented the award, and trustee Roger Michel funded and hosted the event.

After receiving the award, Boyle delivered an animated reading from The Harder They Come, the book for which he won the prize. Boyle has been compared to Twain by literary critics. His book won unanimous approval from judges David Bradley, Jocelyn Chadwick, and Shelley Fisher Fishkin.

Baldacci, a self-described “Twainiac,” felt it was critical to establish an annual award honoring Twain’s contribution to American literature. Michel echoed the significance of the award and spoke about the importance of historic preservation.

The ceremony included a lively performance of a scene from SAWYER, a new play by Noah Altshuler, playwright in residence at the Twain House. And in a fitting nod to the “American voice,” Bluegrass legend Rhonda Vincent and the Rage closed the ceremony with a flawless performance of classics and new songs set against the backdrop of a New York City skyline.

Ashley Campbell joined the band as a special guest, and her moving rendition of “Remembering” –a tribute she co-wrote for her father, Glen Campbell— received a heartfelt response from the appreciative audience. Altshuler lent his voice to the musical celebration and performed “Pennsylvania,” his original composition honoring Mark Twain. Vincent’s band closed out the evening with “Run Mississippi,” her signature song, which was originally recorded on Mark Twain: Words & Music.