The Mark Twain House & Museum is pleased to announce the short list for its Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award (MTAVL). The winner will be announced in mid-April, and an award ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, May 17, 2020.

The MTAVL Award, first presented in 2016, honors a work of fiction published in the previous calendar year (in this case, 2019) that best embodies an “American voice” such as Twain established in his 1885 masterpiece Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The author of the winning title receives $25,000.

The award will be presented by best-selling author David Baldacci, a trustee of The Mark Twain House & Museum and benefactor of the award and ceremony. Baldacci says, “I can think of no better writer to honor in this way than Mark Twain, the man who was the voice of American literature.”

The short list includes (in alphabetical order by author’s last name): 



Ben Lerner’s latest novel is a tender and expansive family drama set in the American Midwest at the turn of the century: a tale of adolescence, transgression, and the conditions that have given rise to the trolls and tyrants of the New Right. 





SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid 

Kiley Reid’s debut novel is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both. 






Acclaimed poet Ocean Vuong’s debut novel is a shattering portrait of a family, a first love, and the redemptive power of storytelling.





The winner will be chosen by a distinguished panel of three judges: 

 Ron Charlesbook critic for The Washington Post 

Carole Goldberg, “The Write Stuff” columnist and former books editor for The Hartford Courant 

Olivia Whiteformer executive director of The Amistad Center for Art & Culture. 


For more information, contact Jennifer LaRue, director of public programs at The Mark Twain House & Museum,