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 2011

Winner First Novelist

Wench: A Novel
by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Publication Date: Jan 05, 2010
List Price: $24.99
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780061706547
Imprint: Amistad
Publisher: HarperCollins
Parent Company: News Corporation

Read Our Review of Wench: A Novel

Read a Description of Wench: A Novel

Book Description: 
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez is startling and original fiction that raises provocative questions of power and freedom, love and dependence. An enchanting and unforgettable novel based on little-known fact, Wench combines the narrative allure of Cane River by Lalita Tademy and the moral complexities of Edward P. Jones’s The Known World as it tells the story of four blackenslaved women in the years preceding the Civil War. A stunning debut novel, Wench marks author Perkins-Valdez—previously a finalist for the 2009 Robert Olen Butler Short Fiction Prize—as a writer destined for greatness.

Winner Fiction

by Bernice L. McFadden

Publication Date: May 04, 2020
List Price: $35.95
Format: Hardcover, 190 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781617758454
Imprint: Akashic Books
Publisher: Akashic Books
Parent Company: Akashic Books

Read Our Review of Glorious

Read a Description of Glorious

Book Description: 
"The seeming inevitability of cruel fate juxtaposes the triumph of the spirit in this remarkably rich and powerful novel, Glorious. Bernice McFadden’s fully realized characters are complicated, imperfect beings, but if ever a character were worthy of love and honor, it is her Easter Bartlett. This very American story is fascinating; it is also heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and beautifully written."?Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of The Scenic Route

"Riveting… . I am as impressed by its structural strength as by the searing and expertly imagined scenes.”?Toni Morrison, on The Warmest December

>Glorious is set against the backdrops of the Jim Crow South, the Harlem Renaissance, and the civil rights era. Blending the truth of American history with the fruits of Bernice L. McFadden’s rich imagination, this is the story of Easter Venetta Bartlett, a fictional Harlem Renaissance writer whose tumultuous path to success, ruin, and revival offers a candid portrait of the American experience in all its beauty and cruelty.

Glorious is ultimately an audacious exploration into the nature of self-hatred, love, possession, ego, betrayal, and, finally, redemption.

aBernice L. McFadden is the author of six critically acclaimed novels, including the classic Sugar and Nowhere Is a Place, which was a Washington Post best fiction title for 2006. She is a two-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of two fiction honors from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA). McFadden lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she is working on her next novel.

Winner Nonfiction

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
by Wes Moore

Publication Date: Jan 11, 2011
List Price: $16.00
Format: Paperback, 250 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780385528207
Imprint: Knopf
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann

Read a Description of The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates

Book Description: Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence? Wes Moore, the author of this fascinating book, sets out to answer this profound question. In alternating narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.

Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation

Unfinished Blues…Memories of a New Orleans Music Man
by Harold Battiste Jr. and Karen Celestan

Publication Date: May 01, 2010
List Price: $28.95
Format: Hardcover, 198 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780917860553
Imprint: The Historic New Orleans Collection
Publisher: The Historic New Orleans Collection
Parent Company: The Historic New Orleans Collection

Read a Description of Unfinished Blues…Memories of a New Orleans Music Man

Book Description: 
Unfinished Blues: Memories of a New Orleans Music Man celebrates New Orleans composer, producer, arranger, educator and jazz ambassador Harold Battiste Jr. Chasing the dream from New Orleans to Los Angeles and back, Battiste thrived in the jazz, blues and pop scenes. The creative force behind a bevy of number-one hits Barbara George s I Know (You Don t Love Me No More), Joe Jones s You Talk Too Much, Sam Cooke s You Send Me and the sage who launched the careers of Dr. John and Sonny & Cher, Battiste worked behind the scenes of the music industry for more than half a century. With Unfinished Blues, his voice is heard, unfiltered, at last. Battiste’s musical sensibilities were formed and his racial consciousness raised in the churches, classrooms and jazz joints of New Orleans. A graduate of Dillard University s music education program, Battiste confronted discrimination as a teacher in Louisiana s segregated public school system. In the early 1950s he founded All for One, the nation s first African American musician-owned and -operated record label. His commitment to education and uplift has never wavered: in recent decades he worked alongside lifelong friend and fellow musician Ellis Marsalis to build the renowned jazz studies program at the University of New Orleans. He can count among his friends and protégés many of today s leading young jazz musicians Nicholas Payton, Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis, Victor Goines, Jesse McBride and other members of a next generation keeping the New Orleans sound alive.

Honor Book Nonfiction

In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance
by Wilbert Rideau

Publication Date: Apr 27, 2010
List Price: $26.95
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780307264817
Imprint: Knopf
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann

Read a Description of In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance

Book Description: 
From Wilbert Rideau, the award-winning journalist who spent forty-four years in Louisiana prisons working against unimaginable odds to redeem himself, the story of a remarkable life: a crime, its punishment, and ultimate triumph.

After killing a woman in a moment of panic following a botched bank robbery, Rideau, denied a fair trial, was improperly sentenced to death at the age of nineteen. After more than a decade on death row, his sentence was amended to life imprisonment, and he joined the inmate population of the infamous Angola penitentiary. Soon Rideau became editor of the prison newsmagazine The Angolite, which under his leadership became an uncensored, daring, and crusading journal instrumental in reforming the violent prison and the corrupt Louisiana justice system.

With the same incisive feel for detail that brought Rideau great critical acclaim, here he brings to vivid life the world of the prison through the power of his pen. We see Angola’s unique culture, encompassing not only rivalries, sexual slavery, ingrained racism, and daily, soul-killing injustices but also acts of courage and decency by keeper and kept alike. As we relive Rideau’s remarkable rehabilitation—he lived a more productive life in prison than do most outside—we also witness his long struggle for justice.

In the Place of Justice goes far beyond the confines of a prison memoir, giving us a searing exposé of the failures of our legal system framed within the dramatic tale of a man who found meaning, purpose, and hope in prison. This is a deeply moving, eloquent, and inspirational story about perseverance, unexpected friendships and love, and the possibility that good can be forged under any circumstances.

Honor Book Nonfiction

John Oliver Killens: A Life Of Black Literary Activism
by Keith Gilyard

Publication Date: May 15, 2010
List Price: $45.95
Format: Hardcover, 456 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780820335131
Imprint: University of Georgia Press
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Parent Company: University of Georgia

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Read a Description of John Oliver Killens: A Life Of Black Literary Activism

Book Description: 
John Oliver Killens’s politically charged novels And Then We Heard the Thunder and The Cotillion; or One Good Bull Is Half the Herd, were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. His works of fiction and nonfiction, the most famous of which is his novel Youngblood, have been translated into more than a dozen languages. An influential novelist, essayist, screenwriter, and teacher, he was the founding chair of the Harlem Writers Guild and mentored a generation of black writers at Fisk, Howard, Columbia, and elsewhere. Killens is recognized as the spiritual father of the Black Arts Movement. In this first major biography of Killens, Keith Gilyard examines the life and career of the man who was perhaps the premier African American writer-activist from the 1950s to the 1980s.Gilyard extends his focus to the broad boundaries of Killens’s times and literary achievement—from the Old Left to the Black Arts Movement and beyond. Figuring prominently in these pages are the many important African American artists and political figures connected to the author from the 1930s to the 1980s—W. E. B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, Alphaeus Hunton, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Harry Belafonte, and Maya Angelou, among others.