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 2004

Winner Fiction

Hottentot Venus: A Novel
by Barbara Chase-Riboud

Publication Date:
List Price: $15.95
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781400032082
Imprint: Anchor
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC
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Book Description: 
It is Paris, 1815. An extraordinarily shaped South African girl known as the Hottentot Venus, dressed only in feathers and beads, swings from a crystal chandelier in the duchess of Berry’s ballroom. Below her, the audience shouts insults and pornographic obscenities. Among these spectators is Napoleon’s physician and the most famous naturalist in Europe, the Baron George Cuvier, whose encounter with her will inspire a theory of race that will change European science forever.

Evoking the grand tradition of such “monster” tales as Frankenstein and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Barbara Chase Riboud, prize-winning author of the classic Sally Hemings, again gives voice to an “invisible” of history. In this powerful saga, Sarah Baartman, for more than 200 years known only as the mysterious lady in the glass cage, comes vividly and unforgettably to life.

Winner First Novelist

The Known World
by Edward P. Jones

Publication Date:
List Price: $16.99
Format: Paperback, 432 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780061159176
Imprint: Amistad
Publisher: HarperCollins
Parent Company: News Corporation
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Read a Description of The Known World


Book Description: 
One of the most acclaimed novels in recent memory, The Known World is a daring and ambitious work by Pulitzer Prize winner Edward P. Jones.The Known World tells the story of Henry Townsend, a black farmer and former slave who falls under the tutelage of William Robbins, the most powerful man in Manchester County, Virginia. Making certain he never circumvents the law, Townsend runs his affairs with unusual discipline. But when death takes him unexpectedly, his widow, Caldonia, can’t uphold the estate’s order, and chaos ensues. Jones has woven a footnote of history into an epic that takes an unflinching look at slavery in all its moral complexities.

Honor Book Fiction

Loving Donovan
by Bernice L. McFadden

Publication Date:
List Price: $15.95
Format: Paperback, 224 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781617753183
Imprint: Akashic Books
Publisher: Akashic Books
Parent Company: Akashic Books
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Read Our Review of Loving Donovan


Read a Description of Loving Donovan


Book Description: 
"Bernice L. McFadden is one of the best contemporary literary writers out there today…Her brilliance, her talent as a novelist, is the very life she breathes into all of her characters."
—Terry McMillan, from the Introduction

"Bernice L. McFadden was one of the best writers to emerge in the post-Waiting to Exhale explosion that introduced at least a dozen Black female novelists. Loving Donovan has generated near-cult status among readers. After more than a decade since it appeared, Donovan is being reissued. How fitting that Terry McMillan has written a new introduction. If you’ve read Donovan before, you will fall in love all over again. And if this is your first time, prepare yourself for an intense romance between an enigmatic antihero and a heroine who will feel like your homegirl."
—Essence Magazine

"Loving Donovan is brilliant. By exploring the depth of her characters, the novel transforms what, on the surface, may appear to be the run-of-the-mill, paperback sentimental, tear-jerking coupling, into an understanding, unflinching, expertly told tale of human nature."
—AALBC

One of Library Journal’s 25 Key Indie Fiction Titles for Fall 2014-Winter 2015!

"A two-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist also twice honored by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, McFadden presents a love story starring Campbell and Donovan—both from shattered homes, both still hopeful, and both shaped more by history than they can imagine. Don’t miss."
—Library Journal Prepub Alert

"Loving Donovan firmly establishes McFadden among the ranks of those few writers of whom you constantly beg for more."
—Black Issues Book Review

"McFadden is clearly adept in keeping the reader entertained, captivated, and on our toes to try to figure out what’s going to happen next. The rich characters, life situations, and language all wrapped up in such a small book and saying so much is a feat."
—Brown Girl Reading

Praise for Bernice L. McFadden:

"McFadden works a kind of miracle—not only do her characters retain their appealing humanity; their story eclipses the bonds of history to offer continuous surprises."
—New York Times, on Gathering of Waters

"Searing and expertly imagined."
—Toni Morrison, on The Warmest December

With a new introduction by Terry McMillan.

The first section of McFadden’s unconventional love story belongs to Campbell. Despite being born to a brokenhearted mother and a faithless father, Campbell still believes in the power of love…if she can ever find it. Living in the same neighborhood, but unknown to Campbell until a chance meeting brings them together, is Donovan, the "little man" of a shattered home—a family torn apart by anger and bitterness.

In the face of daunting obstacles, Donovan dreams of someday marrying, raising a family, and playing in the NBA. But deep inside, Campbell and Donovan live with the histories that have shaped their lives. What they discover—together and apart—forms the basis of this compelling, sensual, and surprising novel.

Honor Book Fiction

Joshua’s Bible
by Shelly Leanne

Publication Date:
List Price: $13.95
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780446693981
Imprint: Walk Worthy Press
Publisher: Walk Worthy Press
Parent Company: Denise Stinson & Warner Books
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Read a Description of Joshua’s Bible


Book Description: 
Since childhood, the young reverend Joshua Clay has had a gift to speak God’s word with great eloquence. Now, in the midst of the Depression in the 1930s, Joshua is asked to be the first Negro minister in years to do missionary work in South Africa. Determined to minister Christianity’s soul-sustaining joys, Joshua soon discovers the racial turmoil beneath the country’s Eden-like beauty. As the government ruthlessly passes apartheid laws, Joshua finds his strength and faith tested to its limits.

Winner Nonfiction

In Black And White: The Life Of Sammy Davis, Jr
by Wil Haygood

Publication Date:
List Price: $354.94
Format: Paperback, 518 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9781845131067
Imprint: Aurum Press Ltd
Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd
Parent Company: Aurum Press Ltd
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Read a Description of In Black And White: The Life Of Sammy Davis, Jr


Book Description: 
Sammy Davis, Jr was one of the most recognisable showbiz entertainers of the twentieth century: dancer, singer, hyperactive cabaret performer, film star and hard-drinking, high-living bad-boy member of Las Vegas’s legendary Rat Pack along with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Peter Lawford. But his story was also one of contradiction and compromise: a black man trying to make his name as a star during a time of racial prejudice and even segregation, Sammy Davis, Jr never came to terms with the complexities of his situation. He endured patronising humiliation from his fellow Rat Pack members; he marched with Martin Luther King while, notoriously, cozying up to President Nixon and conducting numerous affairs with white women. Above all, he made his name as a vaudevillian entertainer by arguably accepting the role of honorary white man. This is the definitive portrait of the Rat Pack’s most interesting and maverick member.

Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation

Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation
by Michael D. Harris

Publication Date:
List Price: $49.95
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780807856963
Imprint: The University of North Carolina Press
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Parent Company: The University of North Carolina
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Read a Description of Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation


Book Description: 
In this book, artist and art historian Michael Harris investigates the role of visual representation in the construction of black identities, both real and imagined, in the United States. He focuses particularly on how African American artists have responded to—and even used—stereotypical images in their own works.

Harris shows how, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, racial stereotypes became the dominant mode through which African Americans were represented. These characterizations of blacks formed a substantial part of the foundation of white identity and social power. They also, Harris argues, seeped into African Americans’ self-images and undermined their self-esteem.

Harris traces black artists’ responses to racist imagery across two centuries, from early works by Henry O. Tanner and Archibald J. Motley Jr., in which African Americans are depicted with dignity, to contemporary works by Kara Walker and Michael Ray Charles, in which derogatory images are recycled to controversial effect. The work of these and other artists—such as John Biggers, Jeff Donaldson, Betye Saar, Juan Logan, and Camille Billops—reflects a wide range of perspectives. Examined together, they offer compelling insight into the profound psychological impact of visual stereotypes on the African American community.

Honor Book Nonfiction

Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights
by Tananarive Due

Publication Date:
List Price: $23.00
Format: Paperback, 416 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780345447340
Imprint: One World
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC
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Read a Description of Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights


Book Description: 

Patricia Stephens Due fought for justice during the height of the Civil Rights era. Her daughter, Tananarive, grew up deeply enmeshed in the values of a family committed to making right whatever they saw as wrong. Together, in alternating chapters, they have written a paean to the movement—its hardships, its nameless foot soldiers, and its achievements—and an incisive examination of the future of justice in this country. Their mother-daughter journey spanning two generations of struggles is an unforgettable story.

Patricia Stephens Due fought for justice during the height of the Civil Rights era, surrendering her very freedom to ensure that the rights of others might someday be protected. Her daughter, Tananarive, grew up deeply enmeshed in the values of a family committed to making right whatever they saw as wrong. Together, they have written a paean to the movement'its struggles, its nameless foot-soldiers, and its achievements'and an incisive examination of the future of justice in this country. Their mother-daughter journey spanning the struggles of two generations is an unforgettable story.


Patricia Stephens Due was a civil rights activist with CORE while attending Florida A&M University. In 1960, based on her nonviolent stand during a landmark jail-in, she received the prestigious Gandhi Award. She is married to a civil rights lawyer, has three daughters, and continues to work for change in America. Over the years, she has conducted civil rights workshops and re-enactments for colleges, public schools, civic groups, and churches. She lives in Miami, Florida, with her husband, John Due. Photo: Troy Johnson

In 1960, when she was a student at Florida A&M University, Patricia and her sister Priscilla were part of the movement's landmark 'jail-in,' the first time during the student sit-in movement when protestors served their time rather than paying a fine. She and her sister, and three FAMU students, spent forty-nine days behind bars rather than pay for the 'crime' of sitting at a Woolworth lunch counter. Thus began a lifelong commitment to human rights. Patricia and her husband, civil rights lawyer John Due, worked tirelessly with many of the movement's greatest figures throughout the sixties to bring about change, particularly in the Deep Southern state of Florida.

Freedom in the Family chronicles these years with fascinating, raw power. Featuring interviews with civil rights leaders like Black Panther Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture) and ordinary citizens whose heroism has been largely unknown, this is a sweeping, multivoicedaccount of the battle for civil rights in America. It also reveals those leaders' potentially controversial feelings about the current state of our nation, a country where police brutality and crippling disparities for blacks and whites in health care, education, employment, and criminal justice still exist today.

A mother writes so that the civil liberties she struggled for are not eroded, so that others will take up the mantle and continue to fight against injustice and discrimination. Her daughter, as part of the integration generation, writes to say thank you, to show the previous generation how very much they've done and how much better off she is for their effort'despite all the work that remains. Their combined message is remarkable, moving, and important. It makes for riveting reading.



Honor Book Nonfiction

Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision (Gender and American Culture)
by Barbara Ransby

Publication Date:
List Price: $35.00
Format: Paperback, 496 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780807856161
Imprint: The University of North Carolina Press
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Parent Company: The University of North Carolina
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Read a Description of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision (Gender and American Culture)


Book Description: 
One of the most important African American leaders of the twentieth century and perhaps the most influential woman in the civil rights movement, Ella Baker (1903-1986) was an activist whose remarkable career spanned fifty years and touched thousands of lives.

A gifted grassroots organizer, Baker shunned the spotlight in favor of vital behind-the-scenes work that helped power the black freedom struggle. She was a national officer and key figure in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and a prime mover in the creation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Baker made a place for herself in predominantly male political circles that included W. E. B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King Jr., all the while maintaining relationships with a vibrant group of women, students, and activists both black and white.

In this deeply researched biography, Barbara Ransby chronicles Baker’s long and rich political career as an organizer, an intellectual, and a teacher, from her early experiences in depression-era Harlem to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Ransby shows Baker to be a complex figure whose radical, democratic worldview, commitment to empowering the black poor, and emphasis on group-centered, grassroots leadership set her apart from most of her political contemporaries. Beyond documenting an extraordinary life, the book paints a vivid picture of the African American fight for justice and its intersections with other progressive struggles worldwide across the twentieth century.



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