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.


8 Books Honored in 2001

Winner Fiction

The Fisher King: A Novel
by Paule Marshall

Publication Date:
List Price: $15.99
Format: Paperback, 224 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780684869704
Imprint: Scribner
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Parent Company: CBS Corporation
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Read a Description of The Fisher King: A Novel


Book Description: In 1949, Sonny-Rett Payne, a jazz pianist, fled New York for Paris to escape both his family’s disapproval of his music and the racism that shadowed his career. Now, decades later, his eight-year-old grandson is brought to Payne’s old Brooklyn neighborhood to attend a memorial concert in his honor. The child’s visit reveals the persistent family and community rivalries that drove his grandfather into exile.
The Fisher King — a moving story of jazz, love, family conflict, and the artists’ struggles in society — offers hope in the healing and redemptive power of one memorable boy.

Winner First Novelist

Where I’m Bound: A Novel
by Allen Ballard

Publication Date:
List Price: $24.00
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780684870311
Imprint: Simon & Schuster
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Parent Company: CBS Corporation
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Read a Description of Where I’m Bound: A Novel


Book Description: 
"Where I’m Bound," a stunning and engaging Civil War novel, is the first work of fiction to focus solely on the soldiers of an African-American regiment. Throughout the war, more than 180,000 African-American men fought for the Union Army. Many were escaped slaves, others were freed men; yet all voluntarily enlisted for one cause: freedom. For the first time in fiction, their experiences are successfully portrayed in a manner befitting the grandeur and scope of their contributions. Inspired by the true story of a black cavalry unit in Mississippi, renowned African-American historian Allen Ballard weaves factual events with the fictional account of an escaped slave, Joe Duckett, who flees to join the Northern Army. When Duckett escapes his life of bondage to become a cavalry scout, he grows to be more than a free man — he becomes a hero. Duckett and his hard-riding regiment roam the Mississippi Delta, freeing slaves and keeping vital waterways open for the Union. As the war approaches its final, tragic days, Duckett embarks on his most dangerous mission yet: to return to the plantation from which he escaped in order to reunite with his wife and daughter. More than just an account of the Civil War, "Where I’m Bound" is an affecting portrayal of the psychological effects of war. Through the character Duckett, some of war’s greatest tragedies are painfully evoked — the agonizing separation from family, the horrendous mission of having to kill another man, and the cruelty and moral corruption that occur when men’s passions are their greatest weapons against one another. This story of one man’s ability to meet such overwhelming challenges brings to life the noble fight forfreedom as displayed by African-American soldiers as well as the effects of that fight on an entire country and culture. Dr. Ballard’s first work of fiction is a striking blend of historical fact and dramatic storytelling brilliantly illustrating the accomplishments of African-American Civil War soldiers. "Where I’m Bound" is destined to become a classic novel of the Civil War.

Honor Book Fiction

All of Me: a Voluptuous Tale
by Venise Berry

Publication Date:
List Price: $20.00
Format: Paperback, 288 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780451202628
Imprint: Berkley
Publisher: Berkley
Parent Company: Berkley Publishing Group
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Read a Description of All of Me: a Voluptuous Tale


Book Description: 
So Good, Venise Berry’s first novel, spent six months on Essence magazine’s Blackboard bestseller list and was an Alternate Selection of the Literary Guild. With All of Me, Berry again delivers a compelling, humorous, and poignant story on a subject that plagues half the women in America—weight. Serpentine Williamson has a good life: an exciting career as a television reporter in Chicago, a sexy boyfriend, membership in a popular gospel choir, and a family who loves her. But in the midst of her positives lies a powerful negative—her lifelong struggle with weight.After years of buying into fads and labels, Serpentine finds her world crumbling. And, finally losing the battle to uphold her plummeting self-esteem, she breaks down and needs to be hospitalized. All of Me is a heartwarming, inspiring, and often funny chronicle of Serpentine’s fight for recovery. As she learns to meet her challenges with dignity and strength she also learns to love herself, for the first time, just the way she is. All of Me will resonate with women of all shapes and sizes and will once again affirm Venise Berry as a fresh voice in African-American women’s fiction, whose snappy characters, according to Rosalyn McMillan, "double-dare you to put the book down."

Honor Book Fiction

Sugar: A Novel
by Bernice L. McFadden

Publication Date:
List Price: $15.00
Format: Paperback, 240 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780452282209
Imprint: Plume
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC
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Read a Description of Sugar: A Novel


Book Description: 

Sugar brings a Southern African-American town vividly to life, with its flowering magnolia trees, lingering scents of jasmine and honeysuckle, and white picket fences that keep strangers out—but ignorance and superstition in. To read this novel is to take a journey through loss and suffering to a place of forgiveness, understanding, and grace





Winner Nonfiction

Slavery in Florida: Territorial Days to Emancipation
by Larry Eugene Rivers

Publication Date:
List Price: $19.95
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780813033815
Imprint: University Press of Florida
Publisher: University Press of Florida
Parent Company: University Press of Florida
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Book Description: 
Winner of:
• The Black Caucus of the American Library Association Nonfiction Book Award
• The Tampa Bay Historical Society’s D. B. McKay Award
• The Florida Historical Society’s Rembert Patrick Award for Best Book in Florida History

"A thoroughly researched and balanced account of the slave experience in Florida."—Journal of American History

"The greater social and economic freedom born of Spanish influence and close relationships between rebellious blacks and Seminoles set the stage for the largest slave rebellion in U.S. history. A fascinating account of a variant experience of an institution too often viewed from a single perspective."—Booklist

"Rivers takes a very close look at slave society from various angles, as he evaluates not only slave life but the interaction of whites, blacks, and Indians. . . . Makes for a rich and multi-layered history."—Southern Historian

"Shows how slavery differed dramatically in different regions of the state and how, in fact, it evolved over the years in those areas."—Tallahassee Democrat

"Addresses how Florida’s history and geography produced conditions unlike those elsewhere in the American South."—Journal of Southern History

Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation

W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century 1919-1963
by David Levering Lewis

Publication Date:
List Price: $35.00
Format: Hardcover, 608 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780805025347
Imprint: Henry Holt & Company
Publisher: Macmillan
Parent Company: Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck
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Read a Description of W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century 1919-1963


Book Description: 
The second volume of the Pulitzer Prize—winning biography that The Washington Post hailed as "an engrossing masterpiece"

Charismatic, singularly determined, and controversial, W.E.B. Du Bois was a historian, novelist, editor, sociologist, founder of the NAACP, advocate of women’s rights, and the premier architect of the Civil Rights movement. His hypnotic voice thunders out of David Levering Lewis’s monumental biography like a locomotive under full steam.

This second volume of what is already a classic work begins with the triumphal return from WWI of African American veterans to the shattering reality of racism and lynching even as America discovers the New Negro of literature and art. In stunning detail, Lewis chronicles the little-known political agenda behind the Harlem Renaissance and Du Bois’s relentless fight for equality and justice, including his steadfast refusal to allow whites to interpret the aspirations of black America. Seared by the rejection of terrified liberals and the black bourgeoisie during the Communist witch-hunts, Du Bois ended his days in uncompromising exile in newly independent Ghana. In re-creating the turbulent times in which he lived and fought, Lewis restores the inspiring and famed Du Bois to his central place in American history.

Honor Book Nonfiction

The Art and History of Black Memorabilia
by Larry V. Buster

Publication Date:
List Price: $34.95
Format: Hardcover, 176 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780609604250
Imprint: Clarkson Potter
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC
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Read a Description of The Art and History of Black Memorabilia


Book Description: 
Black memorabilia is one of the most provocative areas of collecting in America today, encompassing anything made by or depicting people of African descent. It includes a diverse range of objects and documents that span five centuries of African-American life, from trade cards to kitchen novelties; dolls and toys to sports and civil-rights mementos; cereal boxes and product labels to books and sheet music; and even the shackles, classified ads, and bills of sale that document the long years of black slavery.

Often harsh and painful to examine, these artifacts nonetheless offer an important window into American history. They have become highly valued collectibles, and especially so among African Americans.

The Art and History of Black Memorabilia, by Larry Vincent Buster, is the first fully illustrated overview of this remarkable area of Americana. With more than two hundred color photographs, this volume examines the most desirable black collectibles and places them within their historical and social contexts. The author, himself a noted collector, includes information on how to buy, display, and preserve black memorabilia and explains how to spot fakes and reproductions. Also included are explorations of some of the most well-known and influential African-American figures in popular culture.

At times horrifying yet sublime, insulting yet intriguing, humorous, heartbreaking, and inspiring, The Art and History of Black Memorabilia is a landmark chronicle of the black experience in America.

Honor Book Nonfiction

Step into a World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature
by Kevin Powell

Publication Date:
List Price: $50.00
Format: Hardcover, 496 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780471380603
Imprint: Wiley
Publisher: Wiley
Parent Company: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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Read Our Review of Step into a World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature


Read a Description of Step into a World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature


Book Description: 

Read more about the contributors to this fantastic volume of work

The best work of hip-hop generation writerscaptured in a single volume

From fiction writers, poets, journalists, andcommentators, this absorbing anthology captures, for the first time, the newschool of black writing, including established and award-winning authors likeJunot Diaz, Edwidge Danticat, Danyel Smith, and PaulBeatty, as well as emerging voices from around the world. In addition to showingtoday's literary flowering, Step Into A World provides a window into the crucialissues of contemporary black life, including racial and sexual identity,post-civil rights politics, and hip-hop culture. Compiled by criticallyacclaimed poet, journalist, and essayist Kevin Powell, this groundbreaking bookis a revelation.Kevin Powell at Brooklyn Moon

Kevin Powell (Brooklyn, NY) is a criticallyacclaimed poet, journalist, and essayist. He is the former senior editor forVibe, and has been published in dozens of periodicals, including the New YorkTimes, the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, George, Essence, and One World.

"Kevin Powell is pushing to bring, as he hasso brilliantly done before, the voices of his generation: the concerns, thecares, the fears, and the fearlessness. Step into a World is a kaleidoscope intothe world not bound by artificial constructs like nation. John Coltrane recorded‘Giant Steps,’ which is a riff on the sight and sounds in his muse. Powellplays the computer with equal astuteness." –NikkiGiovanni

"Those of us who pay attention were awarethat the younger generation of blackwriters was being smothered by theanointment of talented tenth Divas and Divuses, and their commercialaccommodationist ‘Fourth Renaissance. ’This anthology is indeed abreakthrough! It combines the boldness and daring of hip-hop with theintellectual keenness of a Michele Wallace or a Clyde Taylor." –IshmaelReed

"In a culture where videos, the Internet,and other high-tech communication is being consumed like the latestmind-altering drug, how does great literature grow and survive? These writerswill answer that all-important question. This anthology provides a clue, a hint,as to where we might be going. They are resisting all this vacant, empty-mindednothingness. Read them. Listen to them. If you don’t, you do so at yourperil." –Quincy Troupe





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