Black Caucus American Library Association Literary Awards

Bocas Logo First presented at the Second National Conference of African American Librarians in 1994, the BCALA Literary Awards acknowledge outstanding works of fiction and nonfiction for adult audiences by African American authors.

Monetary awards are presented in the following categories, First Novelist, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry. Honor Book citations are also awarded in fiction and nonfiction without any accompanying monetary remuneration.

The BCALA also host an annual conference, the National Conference of African American Librarians.


3 Books Honored in 1994

Winner Fiction

A Lesson Before Dying
by Ernest Gaines

Publication Date:
List Price: $13.95
Format: Paperback, 256 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780375702709
Imprint: Vintage Books
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann
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Read a Description of A Lesson Before Dying


Book Description: 
A Lesson Before Dying, is set in a small Cajun community in the late 1940s. Jefferson, a young black man, is an unwitting party to a liquor store shoot out in which three men arekilled; the only survivor, he is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Grant Wiggins, who left his hometown for the university, has returned to the plantation school to teach. As he struggles with his decision whether to stay or escape to another state, his aunt and Jefferson’s godmother persuade him to visit Jefferson in his cell and impart his learning and his pride to Jefferson before his death. In the end, the two men forge a bond as they both come to understand the simple heroism of resisting—and defying—the expected.

Ernest J. Gaines brings to this novel the same rich sense of place, the same deep understanding of the human psyche, and thesame compassion for a people and their struggle that have informed his previous, highly praised works of fiction.

Winner First Novelist

Losing Absalom
by Alexs D. Pate

Publication Date:
List Price: $15.00
Format: Paperback, 200 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781566891707
Imprint: Coffee House Press
Publisher: Coffee House Press
Parent Company: Coffee House Press
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Read a Description of Losing Absalom


Book Description: 
Sonny Goodman may have hopped the “modern underground railroad called education” and arrived in far-flung Minneapolis, but with the impending death of his father, North Philadelphia is calling him home. Quickly caught in the web that inner-city life has woven around his family’s dreams, Sonny must find the strength to confront the toll urban corrosion has wrought upon the ones he loves.Named Best First Novel by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, winner of the Minnesota Book Award and compared to the work of James Baldwin and August Wilson, Alexs D. Pate’s highly absorbing debut novel “rings with a truth as immediate as body counts in the headlines, as enduring as a classic tragedy.”—San Francisco Chronicle

Winner Nonfiction

W. E. B. Du Bois, 1868-1919: Biography of a Race
by David Levering Lewis

Publication Date:
List Price: $32.00
Format: Paperback, 752 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780805035681
Imprint: Holt Paperbacks
Publisher: Macmillan
Parent Company: Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck
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Read a Description of W. E. B. Du Bois, 1868-1919: Biography of a Race


Book Description: 
This monumental biography—eight years in the research and writing—treats the early and middle phases of a long and intense career: a crucial fifty-year period that demonstrates how Du Bois changed forever the way Americans think about themselves.





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