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.


7 Books Honored in 2007

Winner Fiction

After: A Novel
by Marita Golden

Publication Date:
List Price: $23.95
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780385512220
Imprint: Doubleday
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC
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Read a Description of After: A Novel


Book Description: 
For twelve years Carson Blake inhabited a world of his own creation. Scorned by the father who was incapable of showing him affection and nearly consumed by the mean streets of Prince George’s County, Maryland, Carson did what no one else could: he saved himself.

After joining the police force and building a family with his wife, Bunny, Carson is finally in control of his life in the enclave where African American wealth and privilege shares the same zip code with black American crime and tragedy. Both Carson and his wife have great careers and three beautiful children: Roslyn, Roseanne, and Juwan. Carson is a devoted father, determined not to be the father that Jimmy Blake was to him. But while Juwan’s astounding artistic talent is his father’s pride, the boy’s close relationship with classmate Will conjures up emotions and questions in Carson that threaten to spill over and poison the entire Blake family.

And then, one night in March, nearing the end of a routine shift, Carson stops a young black man for speeding. He orders Paul Houston to exit the car and drop to his knees. But when Houston retrieves something from his waistband and turns to face Carson, three shots are fired, one man loses his life and two families are wrenched from everything that came before and hurled into the haunting future of everything that will come after. When it is revealed that Paul, a son of educators and a teacher in Southeast D.C., was only holding a cell phone, Carson’s carefully woven world begins to unravel.

After is a penetrating work of discovery for a man whose life careens more than once off the edge of disaster. Golden’s astounding prose will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

Honor Book Fiction

Fortunate Son: A Novel
by Walter Mosley

Publication Date:
List Price: $23.95
Format: Hardcover, 313 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780316114714
Imprint: Little, Brown and Company
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Parent Company: Hachette Livre
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Read a Description of Fortunate Son: A Novel


Book Description: 
New York Times bestselling author Walter Mosley’s novel about two boys, one ensconced in a life of privilege and the other in a life of hardship, explores the true meaning of fortune.In spite of remarkable differences, Eric and Tommy are as close as brothers. Eric, a Nordic Adonis, is graced by a seemingly endless supply of good fortune. Tommy is a lame black boy, cursed with health problems, yet he remains optimistic and strong.After tragedy rips their makeshift family apart, the lives of these boys diverge astonishingly: Eric, the golden youth, is given everything but trusts nothing; Tommy, motherless and impoverished, has nothing, but feels lucky every day of his life. In a riveting story of modern-day resilience and redemption, the two confront separate challenges, and when circumstances reunite them years later, they draw on their extraordinary natures to confront a common enemy and, ultimately, save their lives.

Honor Book Fiction

Jump at the Sun: A Novel
by Kim McLarin

Publication Date:
List Price: $13.95
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780060528508
Imprint: Harper Perennial
Publisher: HarperCollins
Parent Company: News Corporation
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Read Our Review of Jump at the Sun: A Novel


Read a Description of Jump at the Sun: A Novel


Book Description: 
After a series of stressful personal transitions, Grace Jefferson finds herself in a new house in a new city and in a new career for which she feels dangerously unsuited: a stay-at-home mom. An educated and accomplished modern woman, a child of the Civil Rights dream, she is caught between the only two models of mothering she has ever known—a sharecropping grandmother who abandoned her children to save herself and a mother who sacrificed all to save her kids—as she struggles to find a middle ground. But as the days pass and the pressures mount, Grace begins to catch herself in small acts of abandonment that she fears may foretell a future she is powerless to prevent . . . or perhaps secretly seeks. Jump at the Sun is a novel about an isolating suburban life and the continuing legacy of slavery, about generational change and the price of living the dream for which our parents fought. In her bold and fearless voice, Kim McLarin explores both the highs and lows of being a mother, and how breaking the cycle of suffocation and regret, while infuriatingly difficult, is absolutely necessary.

Winner Nonfiction

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream
by Barack Obama

Publication Date:
List Price: $27.00
Format: Hardcover, 375 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780307237699
Imprint: Crown
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC
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Read Our Review of The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream


Read a Description of The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream


Book Description: 
In July 2004, Barack Obama electrified the Democratic National Convention with an address that spoke to Americans across the political spectrum. One phrase in particular anchored itself in listeners’ minds, a reminder that for all the discord and struggle to be found in our history as a nation, we have always been guided by a dogged optimism in the future, or what Obama called “the audacity of hope.”

The Audacity of Hope is Barack Obama’s call for a different brand of politics—a politics for those weary of bitter partisanship and alienated by the “endless clash of armies” we see in congress and on the campaign trail; a politics rooted in the faith, inclusiveness, and nobility of spirit at the heart of “our improbable experiment in democracy.” He explores those forces—from the fear of losing to the perpetual need to raise money to the power of the media—that can stifle even the best-intentioned politician. He also writes, with surprising intimacy and self-deprecating humor, about settling in as a senator, seeking to balance the demands of public service and family life, and his own deepening religious commitment.

At the heart of this book is Barack Obama’s vision of how we can move beyond our divisions to tackle concrete problems. He examines the growing economic insecurity of American families, the racial and religious tensions within the body politic, and the transnational threats—from terrorism to pandemic—that gather beyond our shores. And he grapples with the role that faith plays in a democracy—where it is vital and where it must never intrude. Underlying his stories about family, friends, and members of the Senate is a vigorous search for connection: the foundation for a radically hopeful political consensus.

A public servant and a lawyer, a professor and a father, a Christian and a skeptic, and above all a student of history and human nature, Barack Obama has written a book of transforming power. Only by returning to the principles that gave birth to our Constitution, he says, can Americans repair a political process that is broken, and restore to working order a government that has fallen dangerously out of touch with millions of ordinary Americans. Those Americans are out there, he writes—“waiting for Republicans and Democrats to catch up with them.”

Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation

Legacy: Treasures of Black History
by Thomas C. Battle and Donna Marcia Wells (editors), John Hope Franklin (intro)

Publication Date:
List Price: $35.00
Format: Hardcover, 224 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9781426200069
Imprint: National Geographic
Publisher: National Geographic Books
Parent Company: National Geographic Society
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Read a Description of Legacy: Treasures of Black History


Book Description: 
From its Introduction by the revered and distinguished John Hope Franklin to the bibliography and extensive index that complete it, Legacy represents a major new contribution to African-American history. The Black experience and its impact on our nation’s culture and character come alive in twelve chapters that sweep from ancient Africa and the slave trade to such key eras as the Civil War, Emancipation, and Reconstruction; the Harlem Renaissance and the Jim Crow Era; and the modern Civil Rights and Black Power/Black Arts movements.

The more than 150 historic items showcased here include documents, letters, images, and artifacts, many never before published. Readers will find 18th-century maps of Africa; the pincushion of Elizabeth Keckley, Mrs. Lincoln’s seamstress; Depression-era images by Robert M. McNeil; and a Langston Hughes letter in which he first shares his famous poem I, Too, Sing America. Rare photographs show a unique daguerreotype of Frederick Douglass in profile and the Fisk Jubilee Singers, circa 1880. Objects include a bell of Sally Hemmings, Thomas Jefferson’s slave and companion, and NAACP membership buttons from the 1960s. More than two dozen prominent Black scholars and activists offer expert insights on the collection, on subjects ranging from traditional African societies to 21st-century art and politics, making this book as definitive as it is beautiful—a priceless resource that will inform and fascinate serious students and casual readers alike.

Honor Book Nonfiction

A Piece of Cake: A Memoir
by Cupcake Brown

Publication Date:
List Price: $9.52
Format: Paperback, 480 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780110000022
Imprint: Broadway Books
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC
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Read a Description of A Piece of Cake: A Memoir


Book Description: 

There are shelves of memoirs about overcoming the death of a parent, childhood abuse, rape, drug addiction, miscarriage, alcoholism, hustling, gangbanging, near-death injuries, drug dealing, prostitution, or homelessness.



Cupcake Brown survived all these things before she’d even turned twenty.



And that’s when things got interesting…



You have before you the strange, heart-wrenching, and exhilarating tale of a woman named Cupcake. It begins as the story of a girl orphaned twice over, once by the death of her mother and then again by a child welfare system that separated her from her stepfather and put her into the hands of an epically sadistic foster parent. But there comes a point in her preteen years—maybe it’s the night she first tries to run away and is exposed to drugs, alcohol, and sex all at once—when Cupcake’s story shifts from a tear-jerking tragedy to a dark comic blues opera. As Cupcake’s troubles grow, so do her voice and spirit. Her gut-punch sense of humor and eye for the absurd, along with her outsized will, carry her through a fateful series of events that could easily have left her dead.



Young Cupcake learned to survive by turning tricks, downing hard liquor, partying like a rock star, and ingesting every drug she could find while hitchhiking up and down the California coast. She stumbled into gangbanging, drug dealing, hustling, prostitution, theft, and, eventually, the best scam of all: a series of 9-to-5 jobs. But Cupcake’s unlikely tour through the cubicle world was paralleled by a quickening descent into the nightmare of crack cocaine use, till she eventually found herself living behind a Dumpster.



Astonishingly, she turned it around. With the help of a cobbled together family of eccentric fellow addicts and “angels”—a series of friends and strangers who came to her aid at pivotalmoments—she slowly transformed her life from the inside out.



A Piece of Cake is unlike any memoir you’ll ever read. Moving and almost transgressive in its frankness, it is a relentlessly gripping tale of a resilient spirit who took on the worst of contemporary urban life and survived it with a furious wit and unyielding determination. Cupcake Brown is a dynamic and utterly original storyteller who will guide you on the most satisfying, startlingly funny, and genuinely affecting tour through hell you’ll ever take.





Honor Book Nonfiction

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present
by Harriet A. Washington

Publication Date:
List Price: $27.95
Format: Hardcover, 512 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780385509930
Imprint: Doubleday
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC
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Read Our Review of Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present


Read a Description of Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present


Book Description: 
From the era of slavery to the present day, the first full history of black America’s shocking mistreatment as unwilling and unwitting experimental subjects at the hands of the medical establishment.

Medical Apartheid is the first and only comprehensive history of medical experimentation on African Americans. Starting with the earliest encounters between black Americans and Western medical researchers and the racist pseudoscience that resulted, it details the ways both slaves and freedmen were used in hospitals for experiments conducted without their knowledge—a tradition that continues today within some black populations. It reveals how blacks have historically been prey to grave-robbing as well as unauthorized autopsies and dissections. Moving into the twentieth century, it shows how the pseudoscience of eugenics and social Darwinism was used to justify experimental exploitation and shoddy medical treatment of blacks, and the view that they were biologically inferior, oversexed, and unfit for adult responsibilities. Shocking new details about the government’s notorious Tuskegee experiment are revealed, as are similar, less-well-known medical atrocities conducted by the government, the armed forces, prisons, and private institutions.

The product of years of prodigious research into medical journals and experimental reports long undisturbed, Medical Apartheid reveals the hidden underbelly of scientific research and makes possible, for the first time, an understanding of the roots of the African American health deficit. At last, it provides the fullest possible context for comprehending the behavioral fallout that has caused black Americans to view researchers—and indeed the whole medical establishment—with such deep distrust. No one concerned with issues of public health and racial justice can afford not to read Medical Apartheid, a masterful book that will stir up both controversy and long-needed debate.



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