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 2010

Winner Fiction

Buying Time (Angela Evans Series No. 1)
by Pamela Samuels Young

Publication Date: Nov 01, 2009
List Price: $16.99
Format: Paperback, 370 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780981562711
Imprint: Goldman House Publishing
Publisher: Goldman House Publishing
Parent Company: Goldman House Publishing

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Read a Description of Buying Time (Angela Evans Series No. 1)

Book Description: 
“ … a deftly-plotted thriller that combines the best of Lisa Scottoline and Robert Crais. Find a comfortable chair and plan to stay up late. Highly recommended.” —Sheldon Siegel, N.Y. Times Bestselling Author Waverly Sloan is a down-on-his-luck lawyer. But just when he’s about to hit rock bottom, he stumbles upon a business with the potential to solve all of his problems. In Waverly’s new line of work, he comes to the aid of people in desperate need of cash. But there’s a catch. His clients must be terminally ill and willing to sign over rights to their life insurance policies before they can collect a dime. Waverly then finds investors eager to advance them thousands of dollars—including a hefty broker’s fee for himself—in exchange for a significant return on their investment once the clients take their last breath. The stakes get higher when Waverly brokers the policy of the cancer-stricken wife of Lawrence Erickson, a high-powered lawyer who’s bucking to become the next U.S. Attorney General. When Waverly’s clients start dying sooner than they should, both Waverly and Erickson—who has some skeletons of his own to hide—are unwittingly drawn into a perilous web of greed, blackmail and murder.

Winner First Novelist

My Sister’s Veil
by K C. Marshall

Publication Date: Jul 23, 2011
List Price: $15.99
Format: Paperback, 212 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781436325684
Imprint: Xlibris
Publisher: Author Solutions
Parent Company: Najafi Companies

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Book Description: 


Toni’s Veil:
A beautiful face is never enough
To guarantee love, success, and trust.
Torn and conflicted by what they see and say
Maybe they’re right
It’s better their way.
They always win,
So of course we would choose
To perpetrate a look
That will never lose.
I’ll just take it to the twelfth degree
So it appears self righteously
To be me.
So bury the mirror,
And who you really see.
And bury the hatred
Of who you really be.
Then it’s easy to forget the grief
And promise yourself
You can become
A respectable

Terri’s Veil:
Restless and young
With nothing to lose.
Thrown into your world
Unblemished, unbruised.
Ready to grow, and trust and learn,
But guns fill your hands before you discern
The value of life, community and respect
A simple way to mask your intellect.
Apprentice of self-destruction,
A king with no crown
Frustrated and confused,
By the systematic run around.
Yet a gnarly lesson awaits to prove
It’s by your own hand
You win or you lose!

Tina’s Veil:
Abandoned and ashamed
Afraid and unloved
I hid my pain
As innocently as a dove.
The Lord answers prayers
So invisible I’ll be
’cause my blllack and nappy
Embarrasses thee.
If only but
For a genuine veil,
I’d lose myself
In self-medicated hell.
But no need to worry,
No need to fret
Their ’yaki’ hair and blue contacts
Are easy to get.
Spare not a dime
For value and worth
Designer labels and gold
To our pride gives birth.
So strut on high, and lively, and proud
As you die slowly
With a legacy
Broken and loud!

Honor Book Fiction

Sag Harbor
by Colson Whitehead

Publication Date: Apr 28, 2009
List Price: $24.95
Format: Hardcover, 288 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780385527651
Imprint: Knopf
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann

Read a Description of Sag Harbor

Book Description: 
A warm, funny, and supremely original new novel from one of the most acclaimed writers in America.

The year is 1985. Benji Cooper is one of the only black students at an elite prep school in Manhattan. He spends his falls and winters going to roller-disco bar mitzvahs, playing too much Dungeons and Dragons, and trying to catch glimpses of nudity on late-night cable TV. After a tragic mishap on his first day of high school—when Benji reveals his deep enthusiasm for the horror movie magazine Fangoria—his social doom is sealed for the next four years.

But every summer, Benji escapes to the Hamptons, to Sag Harbor, where a small community of African American professionals have built a world of their own. Because their parents come out only on weekends, he and his friends are left to their own devices for three glorious months. And although he’s just as confused about this all-black refuge as he is about the white world he negotiates the rest of the year, he thinks that maybe this summer things will be different. If all goes according to plan, that is.

There will be trials and tribulations, of course. There will be complicated new handshakes to fumble through, and state-of-the-art profanity to master. He will be tested by contests big and small, by his misshapen haircut (which seems to have a will of its own), by the New Coke Tragedy of ’85, and by his secret Lite FM addiction. But maybe, with a little luck, things will turn out differently this summer.

In this deeply affectionate and fiercely funny coming-of-age novel, Whitehead—using the perpetual mortification of teenage existence and the desperate quest for reinvention—lithely probes the elusive nature of identity, both personal and communal.

Honor Book Fiction

Carried By Six
by Allen Ballard

Publication Date: Oct 01, 2009
List Price: $17.95
Format: Paperback, 294 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781935534181
Imprint: Seaforth Press
Publisher: Seaforth Press
Parent Company: Seaforth Press

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Book Description: 
Returning home from his janitor’s job early one morning, Obie Bullock?leader of a Philadelphia anti-violence group?stumbles upon a crime scene: someone has just slit the throat of a police officer. Armed with the officer’s recovered revolver, Obie, an Iraq war vet, corners and kills the masked assassin, who turns out to be the youngest brother of a powerful, but imprisoned drug dealer. Demands for revenge follow, sparking the fast-paced action while simultaneously examining the lives of a working-class family struggling to survive in the projects of Philadelphia. Character-based, authentic, and gripping, this novel exposes the difficulties and danger of working to rid a neighborhood of drugs and violence so that future generations can grow up safe and secure.

Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation

In Search Of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past
by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Publication Date: Jan 27, 2009
List Price: $27.50
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780307382405
Imprint: Crown
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann

Read a Description of In Search Of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past

Book Description: 
Unlike most white Americans who, if they are so inclined, can search their ancestral records, identifying who among their forebears was the first to set foot on this country’s shores, most African Americans, in tracing their family’s past, encounter a series of daunting obstacles. Slavery was a brutally efficient nullifier of identity, willfully denying black men and women even their names. Yet, from that legacy of slavery, there have sprung generations who’ve struggled, thrived, and lived extraordinary lives.

For too long, African Americans’ family trees have been barren of branches, but, very recently, advanced genetic testing techniques, combined with archival research, have begun to fill in the gaps. Here, scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., backed by an elite team of geneticists and researchers, takes nineteen extraordinary African Americans on a once unimaginable journey, tracing family sagas through U.S. history and back to Africa.

Those whose recovered pasts collectively form an African American “people’s history” of the United States include celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, Don Cheadle, Chris Tucker, Morgan Freeman, Tina Turner, and Quincy Jones; writers such as Maya Angelou and Bliss Broyard; leading thinkers such as Harvard divinity professor Peter Gomes, the Reverend T. D. Jakes, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and sociologist Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot; and famous achievers such as astronaut Mae Jemison, media personality Tom Joyner, decathlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Ebony and Jet publisher Linda Johnson Rice.

More than a work of history, In Search of Our Roots is a book of revelatory importance that, for the first time, brings to light the lives of ordinary men and women who, by courageous example, blazed a path for their famous descendants. For a reader, there is the stirring pleasure of witnessing long-forgotten struggles and triumphsbut there’s an enduring reward as well. In accompanying the nineteen contemporary achievers on their journey into the past and meeting their remarkable forebears, we come to know ourselves.

Winner Nonfiction

The Breakthrough: Politics And Race In The Age Of Obama
by Gwen Ifill

Publication Date: Jan 20, 2009
List Price: $24.95
Format: Hardcover, 288 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780385525015
Imprint: Knopf
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann

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Read a Description of The Breakthrough: Politics And Race In The Age Of Obama

Book Description: 
In The Breakthrough, veteran journalist Gwen Ifill surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama’s stunning presidential victory and introducing the emerging young African American politicians forging a bold new path to political power.

Ifill argues that the Black political structure formed during the Civil Rights movement is giving way to a generation of men and women who are the direct beneficiaries of the struggles of the 1960s. She offers incisive, detailed profiles of such prominent leaders as Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and U.S. Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama (all interviewed for this book), and also covers numerous up-and-coming figures from across the nation. Drawing on exclusive interviews with power brokers such as President Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, his son Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., and many others, as well as her own razor-sharp observations and analysis of such issues as generational conflict, the race/ gender clash, and the "black enough" conundrum, Ifill shows why this is a pivotal moment in American history.

The Breakthrough is a remarkable look at contemporary politics and an essential foundation for understanding the future of American democracy in the age of Obama.

Honor Book Nonfiction

Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I
by Adriane Lentz-Smith

Publication Date: Sep 30, 2011
List Price: $36.00
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780674062054
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Parent Company: Harvard University

Read a Description of Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I

Book Description: 
For many of the 200,000 black soldiers sent to Europe with the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I, encounters with French civilians and colonial African troops led them to imagine a world beyond Jim Crow. They returned home to join activists working to make that world real. In narrating the efforts of African American soldiers and activists to gain full citizenship rights as recompense for military service, Adriane Lentz-Smith illuminates how World War I mobilized a generation.Black and white soldiers clashed as much with one another as they did with external enemies. Race wars within the military and riots across the United States demonstrated the lengths to which white Americans would go to protect a carefully constructed caste system. Inspired by Woodrow Wilson’s rhetoric of self-determination but battered by the harsh realities of segregation, African Americans fought their own “war for democracy,” from the rebellions of black draftees in French and American ports to the mutiny of Army Regulars in Houston, and from the lonely stances of stubborn individuals to organized national campaigns. African Americans abroad and at home reworked notions of nation and belonging, empire and diaspora, manhood and citizenship. By war’s end, they ceased trying to earn equal rights and resolved to demand them.This beautifully written book reclaims World War I as a critical moment in the freedom struggle and places African Americans at the crossroads of social, military, and international history.