Mark Barr’s fiction and essays have appeared in Garden & Gun, Wisconsin Review, Poets & Writers, LitHub, Necessary 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.
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."
"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
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 17, 2019
Atlanta, GA -- A Capella Books, Writers at the Wrecking Bar, in conversation with Jessica Handler, 7-9pm. 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 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
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
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