BCALA announces 2007 Literary Awards


Macey Morales

ALA Media Relations

For Immediate Release

January 29, 2007

BCALA announces 2007 Literary Awards

SEATTLE - The Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) announces the winners of the 2007 BCALA Literary Awards during the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association (ALA) in Seattle. The awards recognize excellence in adult fiction and nonfiction by African American authors published in 2006 and a citation for Outstanding Contribution to Publishing. The recipients will receive the awards on June 22 during the 2007 ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.

The winner in the fiction category is "After, A Novel" by Marita Golden (Doubleday). The Fiction Honor Book winners are "Fortunate Son" by Walter Mosley (Little Brown and Co.) and "Jump at the Sun" by Kim McLarin (William Morrow).

The winner in the nonfiction category is "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream," by Barack Obama (Crown). Two Honor Book winners also were selected: "A Piece Of Cake" by Cupcake Brown (Crown) and "Medical Apartheid: the Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present" by Harriet A. Washington (Doubleday).

In "After, A Novel," Golden provides a penetrating and painful look into the impact on a police officer who kills an innocent young black man. The novel explores the traumatic effect of the incident and its psychological toll on the officer and his family. Interwoven throughout the novel are the underlying themes of the need for understanding, forgiveness and the importance of moving beyond stereotyping and one’s prejudices to a position of acceptance.

"Fortunate Son" explores the lives of two very different boys, born hours apart, and raised as brothers. Though separated after six years, the bond between them remained impenetrable. The novel chronicles the numerous challenges each boy faces. Eric, who is white and financially secure, is emotionally tormented. The black brother, Tommy, who was not expected to survive infancy, remains thankful for each day of his life though impoverished and struggling to survive on the streets.

"Mosley, a master storyteller, skillfully weaves the simple lives of these two characters into a captivating novel that redefines the concept of family," said BCALA Literary Awards Chair John S. Page.

"Jump at the Sun" is a brilliantly introspective novel contrasting themes of career, marriage and motherhood with an ever consuming desire for escape. On the surface, Grace Jefferson, Ph.D., seems to have it all. Positioned in an upscale suburban lifestyle with a successful husband, beautiful home and loving children, Grace must decide whether to follow her mother’s self-sacrificial model of parenting or that of her free-spirited Grandma Rae who abandoned her children. McLarin presents complicated characters, apt sociological observations, and pertinent psychological theories to tell a riveting story.

"The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream" is a moving expansion of Senator Obama’s multi-faceted speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. The work expounds personal views and ideas on faith, values, and issues that he believes will reclaim the American dream. Using prosaic chapters, Obama examines the political history and values common to all Americans. He ends with institutional forces, such as money and the media, which need to be attacked and tamed to allow the audacity of hope to become a reality.

"A Piece of Cake" is the true story of a young woman’s will to survive against all odds. Through vivid and gruesome details, Cupcake Brown chronicles a life of abuse, prostitution, gang involvement and drug addiction. Heart wrenching and inspirational, this memoir provides living proof that even the gravest obstacles can be overcome.

"Medical Apartheid: the Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present" is a well-written and thoroughly documented book that graphically illustrates and describes the medical atrocities inflicted upon black Americans. This work explains why there is fear and reluctance in the black community to participate in clinical trials or to trust medical doctors. "Medical Apartheid" is an alarming book that fills a void in African American medical history.

For excellence in scholarship, the BCALA Literary Awards Committee presents the Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation to Thomas Battle and Donna Wells for "Legacy: Treasures of Black History" (National Geographic Press). Drawing upon the Moorland-Spingarn world-class collection of historic documents, photographs, images and artifacts, Battle and Wells have produced an illustrative history that captures the black American experience.

"All of these winners have made a significant contribution to the African American community," states BCALA Literary Awards Chair John S. Page. "We are proud to present them with the BCALA awards and look forward to reading more of their works in the future."

Members of the BCALA Literary Awards Jury are: John S. Page, Chair, University of the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C.; Virginia Dowsing Toliver, Vice Chair, Washington University, St. Louis; Gladys Smiley Bell, Hampton University, Hampton, Va.; Carolyn Garnes, Atlanta; Ernestine Hawkins, East Cleveland Public Library, East Cleveland, Ohio; Phyllis W. Jackson, Atlanta; and Joel White, Forsyth (NC) County Public Library, Winston-Salem, N.C.