Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary Award Winners 2020

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The Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc. (BCALA) announced the winners of the 2020 BCALA Literary Awards during the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association in Philadelphia, PA. The awards recognize excellence in adult fiction and nonfiction by African American authors published in 2019.


The American Library Association had a historic win for children's literature where New Kid written and illustrated by Jerry Craft and The Undefeated written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson swept the awards winning the prestigious Newbery, Caldecott, and Coretta Scott King Book Jury Awards.


The Black Caucus of the American Library Association selected some fantastic books this weekend as the organization celebrates its 50th year of advocating for the development, promotion, and improvement of library services and resources to the nation's African American community; and provides leadership for the recruitment and professional development of African American librarians.


The BCALA Awards started in 1994, recognizes excellence in African American fiction and nonfiction literature. The recipients will receive awards during the 2020 11th National Conference of African American Librarians in Tulsa, OK. This year's winners are:


1st Novelist Award





The Water Dancer: A Novel by Ta-nehisi Coates (Random House)

This is the dramatic story of an atrocity inflicted on generations of women, men, and children—the violent and capricious separation of families—and the war they waged to simply make lives with the people they loved. Written by one of today’s most exciting thinkers and writers, The Water Dancer is a propulsive, transcendent work that restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen.


The Fiction Category Winner




The Nickel Boys: A Novel by Colson Whitehead (Knopf Doubleday)

In this bravura follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize, and National Book Award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.




The Honor Books for Fiction




Africaville: A Novel by Jeffrey Colvin (HarperCollins)

Structured as a triptych, Africaville chronicles the lives of three generations of the Sebolt family—Kath Ella, her son Omar/Etienne, and her grandson Warner—whose lives unfold against the tumultuous events of the twentieth century from the Great Depression of the 1930s, through the social protests of the 1960s to the economic upheavals in the 1980s.



The Last Thing You Surrender: A Novel of World War II by Leonard Pitts, Jr. (Agate)

Pulitzer-winning journalist and bestselling novelist (Freeman) Leonard Pitts, Jr.’s new historical page-turner is a great American tale of race and war, following three characters from the Jim Crow South as they face the enormous changes World War II triggers in the United States.



Red at the Bone: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson (Riverhead Books)

An unexpected teenage pregnancy pulls together two families from different social classes, and exposes the private hopes, disappointments, and longings that can bind or divide us from each other, from the New York Times-bestselling and National Book Award-winning author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming



The Nonfiction Category Winner




Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem: A Memoir by Daniel R. Day (Random House)

With his now-legendary store on 125th Street in Harlem, Dapper Dan pioneered high-end streetwear in the 1980s, remixing classic luxury-brand logos into his own innovative, glamorous designs. But before he reinvented haute couture, he was a hungry boy with holes in his shoes, a teen who daringly gambled drug dealers out of their money, and a young man in a prison cell who found nourishment in books. In this remarkable memoir, he tells his full story for the first time.



The Honor Book for Nonfiction




Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White by William Sturkey (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press)

A rich, multigenerational saga of race and family in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, that tells the story of how Jim Crow was built, how it changed, and how the most powerful social movement in American history came together to tear it down.




The Poetry Category Winner




1919 by Eve L. Ewing (Haymarket Books)

The Chicago Race Riot of 1919, the most intense of the riots that comprised the “Red Summer” of violence across the nation’s cities, has shaped the last century but is unfamiliar or altogether unknown to many people today. In 1919, her second collection of poems, Eve L. Ewing explores the story of this event—which lasted eight days and resulted in thirty-eight deaths and almost five hundred injuries— through poems recounting the stories of everyday people trying to survive and thrive in the city. Ewing uses speculative and Afrofuturist lenses to recast history, illuminating the thin line between the past and the present.




The Honor Book for Poetry




I: New and Selected Poems by Toi Derricotte (University of Pittsburgh Press)

“I”: New and Selected Poems shows the reader both the closeness of the enemy and the poet’s inherent courage, inventiveness, and joy. It is a record of one woman’s response to the repressive and fracturing forces around the subjects of race, class, color, gender, and sexuality. Each poem is an act of victory, finding a path through repressive forces to speak with both beauty and truth.



The Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation Award




Hollywood Black: The Stars, the Films, the Filmmakers by Donald Bogle (Running Press)