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.


9 Books Honored in 2012

Honor Book Fiction

The Taste Of Salt
by Martha Southgate

Publication Date:
List Price: $13.95
Format: Paperback, 288 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781565129252
Imprint: Algonquin Books
Publisher: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
Parent Company: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
Borrow from Library

Read a Description of The Taste Of Salt


Book Description: 
Award-winning novelist Martha Southgate (who, in the words of Julia Glass, “can write fat and hot, then lush and tender, then just plain truthful and burning with heart”) now tells the story of a family pushed to its limits by addiction over the course of two generations.

Josie Henderson loves the water and is fulfilled by her position as the only senior-level black scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. In building this impressive life for herself, she has tried to shed the one thing she cannot: her family back in landlocked Cleveland. Her adored brother, Tick, was her childhood ally as they watched their drinking father push away all the love that his wife and children were trying to give him. Now Tick himself has been coming apart and demands to be heard.

Weaving four voices into a beautiful tapestry, Southgate charts the lives of the Hendersons from the parents’ first charmed meeting to Josie’s realization that the ways of the human heart are more complex than anything seen under a microscope.

Honor Book Fiction

Silver Sparrow
by Tayari Jones

Publication Date:
List Price: $14.95
Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781616201425
Imprint: Algonquin Books
Publisher: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
Parent Company: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
Borrow from Library

Read a Description of Silver Sparrow


Book Description: With the opening line of Silver Sparrow, “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist,” author Tayari Jones unveils a breathtaking story about a man’s deception, a family’s complicity, and the two teenage girls caught in the middle.Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon’s two families the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode. This is the third stunning novel from an author deemed “one of the most important writers of her generation” (the Atlanta Journal Constitution).

Winner Nonfiction

The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934-1960
by Lawrence P. Jackson

Publication Date:
List Price: $47.95
Format: Hardcover, 608 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780691141350
Imprint: Princeton University Press
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Parent Company: Princeton University
Borrow from Library

Read a Description of The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934-1960


Book Description: 
The Indignant Generation is the first narrative history of the neglected but essential period of African American literature between the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights era. The years between these two indispensable epochs saw the communal rise of Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ralph Ellison, Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, and many other influential black writers. While these individuals have been duly celebrated, little attention has been paid to the political and artistic milieu in which they produced their greatest works. With this commanding study, Lawrence Jackson recalls the lost history of a crucial era. Looking at the tumultuous decades surrounding World War II, Jackson restores the "indignant" quality to a generation of African American writers shaped by Jim Crow segregation, the Great Depression, the growth of American communism, and an international wave of decolonization. He also reveals how artistic collectives in New York, Chicago, and Washington fostered a sense of destiny and belonging among diverse and disenchanted peoples. As Jackson shows through contemporary documents, the years that brought us Their Eyes Were Watching God, Native Son, and Invisible Man also saw the rise of African American literary criticism—by both black and white critics. Fully exploring the cadre of key African American writers who triumphed in spite of segregation, The Indignant Generation paints a vivid portrait of American intellectual and artistic life in the mid-twentieth century.

Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation

Teenie Harris, Photographer: Image, Memory, History
by Cheryl Finley, Laurence A. Glasco, and Joe W. Trotter

Publication Date:
List Price: $55.00
Format: Hardcover, 208 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780822944140
Imprint: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Parent Company: University of Pittsburgh
Borrow from Library

Read a Description of Teenie Harris, Photographer: Image, Memory, History


Book Description: 
Published in cooperation with Carnegie Museum of Art
With an introduction by Deborah Willis

The famous faces of Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Josephine Baker, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, and John F. Kennedy appear among the nearly eighty thousand photographs of Charles “Teenie” Harris (19081998). But it’s in the images of other, ordinary people and neighborhoods that Harris shows us a city and an era teeming with energy, culture, friendship, and family. In jazz clubs, Little League games, beauty contests, church functions, boxing matches, political events, protest marches, and everyday scenes, Teenie Harris captured the essence of African American life in Pittsburgh.
Harris’s career began as America emerged from the Great Depression and ended after the civil rights movement. As a photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the nation’s most influential black newspapers, Teenie hit the streets to record historic events and the people who lived them. The archive of Harris’s photography, part of the permanent collection of Carnegie Museum of Art, represents one of the most important documentations of twentieth-century African Americans and their communities. Today, even as Teenie Harris’s photography stands alongside that of Harlem’s famed James VanDerZee, his work in Pittsburgh’s Hill District surpasses that of all other photographers in its breadth and rich portrayal of black urban America.

Honor Book Nonfiction

Malcolm X: A Life Of Reinvention
by Manning Marable

Publication Date:
List Price: $30.00
Format: Hardcover, 608 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780670022205
Imprint: Knopf
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC
Borrow from Library

Read Our Review of Malcolm X: A Life Of Reinvention


Read a Description of Malcolm X: A Life Of Reinvention


Book Description: 

Years in the making—the definitive biography of the legendary black activist.

Of the great figure in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins’ bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world.

Manning Marable’s new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties. Reaching into Malcolm’s troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents’ activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most singular forces for social change, capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.

Also consider A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marables Malcolm X by Jared Ball and Todd Steven Burroughs



Honor Book Nonfiction

Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters
by Donald Bogle

Publication Date:
List Price: $16.99
Format: Paperback, 656 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780061241741
Imprint: Harper Perennial
Publisher: HarperCollins
Parent Company: News Corporation
Borrow from Library

Read a Description of Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters


Book Description: 
“Mr. Bogle continues to be our most noted black-cinema historian.”
—Spike Lee“Donald Bogle [is a] pioneering safe-keeper of the history of blacks in film.”
—VogueFrom Donald Bogle, author of the bestselling Dorothy Dandridge and Toms, Coons, Mulattos, Mammies, and Bucks, a groundbreaking history of African American portrayals in Hollywood, comes the long-awaited, definitive biography of one of America’s brightest and most troubled theatrical stars: actress and singer Ethel Waters. In Heat Wave, Bogle explores Waters’ relationships with other performing greats, including Lena Horne, Count Basie, Vincent Minnelli, and many others, and paints a vivid, deeply human portrait of this legendary performer—a must-read for any fan of jazz, blues, and classic American cinema.

Winner Best Poetry

Mule & Pear
by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Publication Date:
List Price: $15.00
Format: Paperback, 97 pages
Classification: Poetry
ISBN13: 9781936970018
Imprint: New Issues Poetry & Prose
Publisher: New Issues Poetry & Prose
Parent Company: Western Michigan University
Borrow from Library

Read a Description of Mule & Pear


Book Description: 

These poems speak to us with voices borrowed from the pages of novels of Alice Walker, Jean Toomer, and Toni Morrison—voices that still have more to say, things to discuss. Each struggles beneath a yoke of dreaming, loving, and suffering. These characters converse not just with the reader but also with each other, talking amongst themselves, offering up their secrets and hard-won words of wisdom, an everlasting conversation through which these poems voice a shared human experience.





Honor Book Poetry

The Armageddon of Funk
by Michael Warr

Publication Date:
List Price: $15.95
Format: Paperback, 80 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9781882688425
Imprint: Tia Chucha
Publisher: Tia Chucha Press
Parent Company: Tia Chucha Press
Borrow from Library

Read a Description of The Armageddon of Funk


Book Description: 
Tracking a nonlinear trek across terrain as distinct as Timbuktu and Baton Rouge, and beliefs as “contrary” as Christianity and Communism, in The Armageddon of Funk Michael Warr manages to interconnect a world of opposites. Via “poetic memoir” we join his navigation through the “apolitical,” rigid morality of the Jehovah’s Witnesses; the revolutionary theories and free love of Black Panthers and Marxists; the promise of a bourgeois future from bank executives; a screaming soldier brandishing an AK-47 in his face, a blizzard of white termite wings; an interrogation under Haile Selassie’s Jubilee Palace; hallucinating of “of cornbread islands” at Chicago’s “Velvet Lounge,” and many “Street Signs, Convolutions, and other California Coincidences” as one poem is titled in this second collection. Warr’s poetry, like his life, is full of interruptions and circularity that captures the broad sweep of the times and microscopic idiosyncrasies of the moment.

Honor Book Poetry

The new black (Wesleyan Poetry Series)
by Evie Shockley

Publication Date:
List Price: $15.95
Format: Paperback, 128 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780819572875
Imprint: Wesleyan
Publisher: Wesleyan
Parent Company: Wesleyan
Borrow from Library

Read a Description of The new black (Wesleyan Poetry Series)


Book Description: 
Winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award (2012)

Smart, grounded, and lyrical, Evie Shockley’s the new black integrates powerful ideas about “blackness,” past and present, through the medium of beautifully crafted verse. the new black sees our racial past inevitably shaping our contemporary moment, but struggles to remember and reckon with the impact of generational shifts: what seemed impossible to people not many years ago—for example, the election of an African American president—will have always been a part of the world of children born in the new millennium. All of the poems here, whether sonnet, mesostic, or deconstructed blues, exhibit a formal flair. They speak to the changes we have experienced as a society in the last few decades—changes that often challenge our past strategies for resisting racism and, for African Americans, ways of relating to one another. The poems embrace a formal ambiguity that echoes the uncertainty these shifts produce, while reveling in language play that enables readers to “laugh to keep from crying.” They move through nostalgia, even as they insist on being alive to the present and point longingly towards possible futures. Check for the online reader’s companion at http://http://thenewblack.site.wesleyan.edu.



Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors.
Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker.