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Mark Barr’s fiction and essays have appeared in Garden & GunWisconsin ReviewPoets & Writers, LitHubNecessary Fiction, and elsewhere. His debut novel, Watershed (Hub City, 2019), received favorable reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist, and was awarded the 2019 David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction, the 2019 Writers’ League of Texas Discovery Prize in Fiction, and a bronze IPPY Award for Best First Book. It was also named as one of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “12 Southern Books You’ll Want to Read This Fall” and one of Nashville Lifestyles Magazine’s “Four Fall Reads.” 


Mark has been awarded fellowships from Blue Mountain Center,

I-Park Artists Enclave, Jentel Arts, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, Millay Colony, and Yaddo. 


He lives in Arkansas with his wife and sons.

Home: Latest Book




Set in 1937 in rural Tennessee, with the construction of a monumental dam serving as background—a cinematically biblical effort to harness elemental forces and bring power to the people—Watershed delivers a gripping story of characters whose ambitions and yearnings threaten to overflow the banks of their time and place.

"A powerful debut...readers looking for vivid historicals full of emotional turmoil in the vein of Wallace Stegner will enjoy this impressive novel."
Publishers Weekly


"Lives diverted from their original paths play out against the backdrop of rivers diverted from their original banks during the Tennessee Valley Authority project...Barr sheds light on a unique episode in American history while illuminating the stories of two sympathetic characters." Kirkus

“Mark Barr’s vivid and heartfelt Watershed is the most engrossing and assured debut I’ve read in a long, long time. The building of the hydroelectric dam in 1937 Tennessee isn’t the backdrop in this riveting story―it drives everything. A hydroelectric dam engineer running from his past. A Tennessee housewife running toward a new life. You watch a countryside, a people, transformed. The dam truly brings so much more than electricity. Watershed will leave you charged and enlightened. Mark Barr is a powerhouse."―Smith Henderson, author of Fourth of July Creek

"Written with uncommon humanity and grace, Watershed is a powerful reminder of how necessary those qualities are in our own time. Mark Barr has an almost supernatural ability to make the past―both the physical and emotional realities of daily life―intimate and real. Watershed is like one of the great New Deal murals brought to passionate, striving life." ―Kent Wascom, author of The New Inheritors

"In Mark Barr’s engrossing historical novel Watershed, personal and social changes lead to tension in a rural Tennessee town where a post-Depression federal dam project brings work, strangers, and electricity to the region.The dam’s holdups raise the stakes of the story, and waiting to learn the characters’ fates, which are wrapped up in the success of the project, makes this historical tale gripping."―Foreword Magazine

“Watershed is a novel about change in many forms―personal, technological, and societal―and it handles them all with aplomb. A quintessentially American story of invention and reinvention in hard times, it reveals Barr as a writer of uncommon grace, skill, and promise.”―Doug Dorst, author of S (with JJ Abrams)

"Fluidly paced, unsettling yet graceful, Watershed is a riveting debut that never lets up. Barr packs these pages with incident and character and a deep emotional intelligence; this is one of those rare novels that hit you with such startling clarity that the events of the story feel like your own memories." ― Kelly Luce, author of Pull Me Under

Home: Schedule


Feb 23, 2019

North Carolina Book Festival , CAM –Hub City Press Presents: The Charles Frazier Cold Mountain Fund Series


April 2, 2019

Rotary Club of Little Rock. Panel discussion on writing with Jen Crane, led by Guy Choate of Argenta Reading Series.


Sept 13, 2019

Spartanburg, SC -- SIBA19 booksellers conference, AUTHORinteraction: Cold Mountain Book Series. Appearing with Charles Frazier, Jessica Handler, and Carter Sickels, 3pm.


Oct 4, 2019

Official Watershed Launch


Oct 11, 2019

Fayetteville, AR -- Nightbird Books, in conversation with Sara Lewis, 7pm.


Oct 11-13, 2019


Oct 14, 2019

Knoxville, TN -- Union Avenue Books, in conversation with Kelly Luce, 6pm. link


Oct 17, 2019

Atlanta, GA -- A Capella Books, Writers at the Wrecking Bar, in conversation with Jessica Handler, 7-9pm. link


Oct 18, 2019

Madison, WI -- Wisconsin Book Festival. Central Library - The Bubbler, 4:30pm. link


Oct 20, 2019

Austin, TX -- Book People, 5:00pm. link


Oct 21, 2019

Memphis, TN -- novel bookstore, 6pm link


Oct 23, 2019

Chattanooga, TN -- Starline Books, in conversation with Adam Latham, 6:30pm


Oct 24, 2019

Spartanburg, SC -- Hub City Bookstore, 6pm


Oct 25, 2019

Greenville, SC -- M. Judson Books, in conversation with Caleb Johnson, 7pm.


Oct 26, 2019

Sylva, NC -- City Lights Bookstore, 3pm


Oct 28, 2019

Asheville, NC -- Malaprops Bookstore, 6pm


Oct 29, 2019

Augusta, GA -- Book Tavern, 7pm


Nov 5, 2019

Oxford, MS -- Off Square Books, 5:30pm. link


Nov 7, 2019

Jackson, MS -- Lemuria Books, 5pm. link


Nov 11-13, 2019

Clinton, NY -- Hamilton College visit


Nov 16, 2019

Little Rock, AR -- Argenta Reading Series, 6:30pm


Nov 19, 2019

Newton, MA -- Newtonville Books, in conversation with Emily Franklin, 7pm


Jan 14, 2020

North Little Rock, AR -- Argenta Laman Library, 6pm


Jan 29, 2020

Memphis, TN -- WKNO Book Club, 6pm


Oct 17, 2020

Little Rock, AR -- Six Bridges Book Festival, appearing with Tyrone Jaeger and Stacey Margaret Jones, 5:30pm. Virtual event. link


Oct 28, 2020

New York, NY -- Guerrilla Lit Reading Series, appearing with Morgan Jerkins and Melissa Faliveno, 6:30pm CDT. Virtual event. Register to attend: link


for Watershed

Anchor - Awards
  • 2019 David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction

  • 2019 Writers’ League of Texas Discovery Prize in Fiction

  • 2019 IPPY Bronze Award for Best First Book

  • Long-listed for 2019 Crook's Corner Prize Book Prize

  • Fall 2019 Okra Pick, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance

  • Signed First Edition Club selection, Lemuria Books

  • Signed First Edition Club selection, Square Books

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