Jesmyn Ward, author of “Sing, Unburied, Sing” is the most recent winner of the Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award

The Mark Twain House & Museum announces that it is accepting submissions for the 2019 MARK TWAIN AMERICAN VOICE IN LITERATURE award.

The MTAVL award goes to the work of fiction published during the calendar year that best exemplifies or expresses a uniquely American voice, much in the way that Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn does. Jennifer LaRue, director of writing at The Mark Twain House & Museum, says, “We’re not looking for works that mimic or pay homage to Twain, but rather those that speak in an authentic American voice about authentic American experience. It’s one of those things that’s kind of hard to define – but you know it when you see it.”

The honor comes with a $25,000 cash prize. Author David Baldacci, a trustee and generous supporter of the museum, is the impetus behind and benefactor the MTAVL. The program is also sponsored by Bank of America.

This year’s finalists will be judged by Ron Charles, book critic for The Washington Post, Olivia White, former executive director of the Amistad Center for Art & Culture, and Carole Goldberg, book columnist for The Hartford Courant.

Last year the MTAVL award went to Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing; the year before, Bill Beverly’s Dodgers won, and T.C. Boyle’s The Harder They Come won the first MTAVL award.

The museum is accepting submissions from September 1 to January 15, 2020. The winner will be announced in mid-April, and an award ceremony will be held at Mark Twain’s Hartford home in mid-May.

For more information contact Jennifer LaRue at or visit


The Mark Twain House and Museum will accept submissions until January 15, 2020.

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.