BCALA announces 2006 literary award winners

Contact: Larra Clark or Macey Morales

ALA Media Relations

Fo r Immediate Release

January 31, 2006

BCALA announces 2006 literary award winners

(San Antonio) The Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) recently announced the winners of the 2006 BCALA Literary Awards during the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in San Antonio. The awards recognize excellence in adult fiction and nonfiction by African American authors published in 2005, including the work of a first novelist, and a citation for Outstanding Contribution to Publishing. The recipients will receive the awards during the 2006 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans.

The winner in the fiction category is “Third Girl From the Left” by Martha Southgate (Houghton Mifflin). The Fiction Honor Books are: “Snake Walkers” by J. Everett Prewitt (Northland) and “I Got Somebody in Staunton” by William Henry Lewis (Amistad).

A compelling novel, “Third Girl from the Left” depicts the lives of three generations of black women who share a love for films. Southgate gives a glimpse into the 1970s film culture exploring family relationships and love. Southgate resides in Brooklyn, N.Y.

In “Snake Walkers,” Prewitt presents a riveting account of one reporter's first experience with investigative journalism against a backdrop of racism, revenge and family survival. While traumatized as a child after witnessing the lynching of a young boy, reporter Anthony Andrews is placed at the center of a mystery surrounding a strong patriarchal family and the missing citizens of a southern town, as well as the strange disappearance of the local sheriff. Prewitt currently resides in Cleveland.

“I Got Somebody in Staunton” is a collection of original short stories that stand alone but share a common theme. The stories depict ordinary characters who must deal with a variety of circumstances, unpleasant memories and painful situations in Black America.

The winner in the nonfiction category is “Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of African Muslims in the Americas” by Michael A. Gomez (Cambridge University Press). Three Honor Books also were selected: “Fighting for America: Black Soldiers -- The Unsung Heroes of World War II” by Christopher Paul Moore (One World); “Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom” by Heather Andrea Williams (University of North Carolina Press); and “Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity” by Jacqueline Stewart (University of California Press).

“Black Crescent” is a comprehensive, multifaceted, historical study of Islam. Beginning with 15 th century Latin America and the Caribbean, Gomez recounts the story of enslaved African Muslims forced to adopt Christianity while inwardly remaining true to their Islamic beliefs. He documents the influences of African Muslims on their Muslim descendents in 20th century North and South America. Gomez is professor of history at New York University.

“Fighting for America” is the story of African American contributions to the victories in WWII. Moore weaves his family's history into an intriguing tale of patriotism, undaunted bravery and sacrifice for an America that continued to deny Blacks any measure of human rights and equal opportunity. With painstaking effort, he illustrates the conflict and correlation between the fight for equal treatment within the ranks of the military and society as a whole. Moore is curator and research historian for the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

“Self-Taught” by Heather Williams is an untold history of African American self-education. Williams exhaustively researches and traces the historical antecedents of the intense desire of enslaved and freed people to become literate. Williams is assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In its exploration of two synchronous events, mass Black migration in the early twentieth century and the birth of American filmmaking, Jacqueline Stewart's “Migrating to the Movies” makes an invaluable contribution to the fields of African American and c inema studies. Stewart demonstrates how black collective identity may have been informed by these cinematic depictions. Careful research, compelling writing and images from rare films underscore Stewart's work as a major achievement and a vital addition to many collections. Stewart is associate professor of English at the University of Chicago.

The recipient of the First Novelist Award is Denise Nicholas for “Freshwater Road” (Agate). The events of the 1964 Freedom Summer truly spring to life in this impressive debut novel, a fine addition to the historical fiction of the Civil Rights Movement. Through the perspective of a young freedom worker, readers can experience a significant time in American history. Nicholas lives in Southern California.

For excellence in scholarship, the BCALA Literary Awards Committee presented the Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation to Lisa E. Farrington for “Creating Their Own Image: The History of African-American Women Artists” (Oxford University Press). “Creating Their Own Image” is a phenomenal historical reference tool that captivates and educates the reader. This comprehensive chronology is a tribute to African American women artists for their contributions to the world of art. Farrington is a senior art historian at the Parsons School of Design.

Members of the BCALA Literary Awards Jury are: John S. Page, chair, University of the District of Columbia; Virginia Dowsing Toliver, vice chair, Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.; Gladys Smiley Bell, Hampton University, Hampton, Va; Carolyn Garnes, Atlanta; Tracie D. Hall, ALA Office for Diversity and the Spectrum Initiative, Chicago; Phyllis W. Jackson, Atlanta; and Joel White, Forsyth (N.C.) County Public Library .