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.


6 Books Honored in 2009


Winner Fiction

Trading Dreams at Midnight: A Novel
by Diane McKinney-Whetstone



Publication Date:
List Price: $13.99 (store prices may vary)
Format: Paperback
Classification: Fiction
Page Count: x320
ISBN13: 9780060555948
Imprint: Harper Perennial
Publisher: HarperCollins
Parent Company: News Corporation

Read Our Review of Trading Dreams at Midnight: A Novel

Book Description: 
Neena’s mother, Freeda, disappeared on a cold February morning in 1984, leaving the fifteen-year-old Neena and her younger sister, Tish, in the care of Nan, their stern grandmother. Two decades later, Neena—no longer living in Philadelphia—supports herself by blackmailing married men. Returning to her childhood home when a sting goes terribly wrong, she avoids her grandmother while attempting to pull one last hustle on a prominent local lawyer. But discovering that Tish has been hospitalized with pregnancy complications forces Neena to come to terms with the woman who raised her and the truth about the woman who abandoned her. As Neena, Tish, and Nan reunite, each confronts her own memories of the past and dreams for the future.


Winner Nonfiction

Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching
by Paula J. Giddings



Publication Date:
List Price: $19.99 (store prices may vary)
Format: Paperback
Classification: Fiction
Page Count: x832
ISBN13: 9780060797362
Imprint: Harper Paperbacks
Publisher: HarperCollins
Parent Company: News Corporation

Book Description: 
Heralded as a landmark achievement upon publication, Ida: A Sword Among Lions is a sweeping narrative about a country and a crusader embroiled in the struggle against lynching—a practice that imperiled not only the lives of black men and women, but also a nation based on law and riven by race. At the center of the national drama is Ida B. Wells (1862-1931). Born to slaves in Mississippi, Wells began her activist career by refusing to leave a first-class ladies’ car on a Memphis railway and rose to lead the nation’s first campaign against lynching. For Wells, the key to the rise in violence was embedded in attitudes not only about black men, but also about women and sexuality. Her independent perspective and percussive personality gained her encomiums as a hero—as well as aspersions on her character and threats of death. Exiled from the South by 1892, Wells subsequently took her campaign across the country and throughout the British Isles before she married and settled in Chicago. There she continued her activism as a journalist, suffragist, and independent candidate in the rough-and-tumble world of the Windy City’s politics.With meticulous research and vivid rendering of her subject, Giddings also provides compelling portraits of twentieth-century progressive luminaries, blacks and whites who worked with Wells during some of the most tumultuous periods in American history. In this groundbreaking work, Paula J. Giddings brings to life the irrepressible personality of Ida B. Wells and gives the visionary reformer her due.


Winner First Novelist

Orange Mint And Honey: A Novel
by Carleen Brice



Publication Date:
List Price: $15.00 (store prices may vary)
Format: Paperback
Classification: Fiction
Page Count: x324
ISBN13: 9780345499066
Imprint: One World/Ballantine
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC

Read Our Review of Orange Mint And Honey: A Novel

Book Description: 
“A wonderful, jazzy, exciting read.”
Nikki Giovanni, author of Acolytes

Broke and burned-out from grad school, Shay Dixon does the unthinkable after receiving a “vision” from her de facto spiritual adviser, blues singer Nina Simone. She phones Nona, the mother she had all but written off, asking if she can come home for a while.

When Shay was growing up, Nona was either drunk, hungover, or out with her latest low-life guy. So Shay barely recognizes the new Nona, now sober and with a positive outlook on life, a love of gardening, and a toddler named Sunny. Though reconciliation seems a hard proposition for Shay, something unmistakable is taking root inside her, waiting to blossom like the morning glories opening up in Nona’s garden sanctuary.

Soon Shay finds herself facing exciting possibilities and even her first real romantic relationship. But when an unexpected crisis hits, even the wise words and soulful melodies of Nina Simone may not be enough for solace. Shay begins to realize that, like orange mint and honey, sometimes life tastes better when bitter is followed by sweet.


“Carleen Brice has woven her talent for storytelling into a funny, sad, and perceptive novel that speaks to all of us who navigate less-than-perfect relationships with our parents or children.”
Elyse Singleton, author of This Side of the Sky

“Brice deftly shows the importance and joy of understanding our past and not only forgiving those who hurt us, but loving them in spite of that hurt. Readers of Terry McMillan and Bebe Moore Campbell will find a new writer to watch.”
Judy Merrill Larsen, author of All the Numbers


Honor Book Fiction

Seen It All and Done the Rest: A Novel
by Pearl Cleage



Publication Date:
List Price: $25.00 (store prices may vary)
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Fiction
Page Count: x320
ISBN13: 9780345481122
Imprint: One World/Ballantine
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC

Book Description: 
For Josephine Evans, home was on the stages of the world where she spent thirty years establishing herself as one of the finest actresses of her generation. Josephine was the toast of Europe, and her fabulous apartment in Amsterdam’s theater district was a popular gathering place for an international community of artists, actors, and expatriates who considered themselves true citizens of the world. Josephine lived above and beyond the reach of conventional definitions of who and what an African American diva could be, and her legions of loyal fans loved her for it. She had a perfect life and enough sense to live it to the hilt, but then a war she didn’t fully understand turned everything upside down, thrusting her into a role she never wanted and was not prepared to play. Suddenly the target of angry protests aimed at the country she had never really felt was her own, Josephine is forced to return to America to see if she can create a new definition of home.

Camping out with her granddaughter, Zora, who is housesitting in Atlanta’s West End; and trying to avoid the unwanted attentions of Dig It!, the city’s brand-new gossip magazine, Josephine struggles to reclaim her old life even as she scrambles to shape her new one. Hoping her friend Howard Denmond is as good as his word when he promises to engineer her triumphant return to the European stage, Josephine sets out to increase her nest egg by selling the house her mother willed her, only to find the long-neglected property has become home to squatters who have no intention of leaving.

But an unexpected reunion with an old friend offers Josephine a chance to set things right. Spurning an offer from unscrupulous land developer Greer Woodruff, Josephine gathers new friends around her, including Victor Causey, a lawyer whose addictions left him homeless but still determined to protect his mother; Louie Baptiste, a displaced New Orleans chef hoping to return to the city he loves; and Aretha Hargrove, recovering from her role in the same scandal that sent Zora running for cover. As Greer gets serious about her plan to tear the community apart, Josephine finds herself playing the most important role of her life, showing her neighbors what courage really is and learning the true meaning of coming home.




Honor Book Fiction

Where the Line Bleeds
by Jesmyn Ward



Publication Date:
List Price: $15.00 (store prices may vary)
Format: Paperback
Classification: Fiction
Page Count: x230
ISBN13: 9781932841381
Imprint: Agate Bolden
Publisher: Agate Publishing, Inc
Parent Company: Agate Publishing, Inc

Book Description: 

Joshua and Christophe are twins, raised by a blind grandmother and a large extended family in a rural town on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. They’ve just finished high school and need to find jobs, but in a failing post-Katrina economy, it’s not easy. Joshua gets work on the docks, but Christophe’s not so lucky. Desperate to alleviate the family’s poverty, he starts to sell drugs. He can hide it from his grandmother but not his twin, and the two grow increasingly estranged. Christophe’s downward spiral is accelerated first by crack, then by the reappearance of the twins’ parents: Cille, who abandoned them, and Sandman, a creepy, predatory addict. Sandman taunts Christophe, eventually provoking a shocking confrontation that will ultimately damn or save both twins. Ward inhabits these characters, and this world—black Creole, poor, and drug-riddled, yet shored by family and community—to a rare degree, without a trace of irony or distance.






Honor Book Nonfiction

Letter to My Daughter
by Maya Angelou



Publication Date:
Format: Paperback
Classification: Nonfiction
Page Count: x192
ISBN13: 9780812980035
Imprint: Knopf
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC

Book Description: 

Dedicated to the daughter she never had but sees all around her, Letter to My Daughter reveals Maya Angelou’s path to living well and living a life with meaning. Here in short spellbinding essays are glimpses of the tumultuous life that taught Angelou lessons in compassion and fortitude: how she was brought up by her indomitable grandmother in segregated Arkansas, taken in at thirteen by her more worldly and less religious mother, and grew to be an awkward six-foot-tall teenager whose first experience of loveless sex paradoxically left her with her greatest gift, a son.

Whether she is recalling lost friends such as Coretta Scott King and Ossie Davis, extolling honesty, decrying vulgarity, explaining why becoming a Christian is a “lifelong endeavor,” or simply singing the praises of a meal of red rice, Maya Angelou writes from the heart to millions of women she considers her extended family.