The Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc. (BCALA) announces the winners of the 2012 BCALA Literary Awards during the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association in Dallas, TX. The awards recognize excellence in adult fiction and nonfiction by African American authors published in 2011, including an award for Best Poetry and a citation for Outstanding Contribution to Publishing. The recipients will receive the awards during the 2012 Annual Conference of the American Library Association in Anaheim, CA.
In the Fiction category BCALA recognizes two Honor Books: Silver Sparrowby Tayari Jones (Algonquin) and The Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate (Algonquin).
Silver Sparrow tells the complicated story of two sisters unwittingly united by bigamy. Narrated by both women through dramatic dialogue this gripping novel tells each daughter’s story as they struggle with similar issues of self-acceptance and identity. Tayari Jones is an Associate Professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University.
In The Taste of Salt, Martha Southgate fearlessly explores the often taboo subject of addiction. Through the candid voices of the story’s main characters, she tells a hauntingly compelling saga that forces the reader to grapple with the effects of addiction on individual identities and family bonds. Martha Southgate lives in Brooklyn, New York.
The winner in the Nonfiction category is The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934-1960 by Lawrence P. Jackson (Princeton University Press). Honor Books for Nonfiction are: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable (Viking) and Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters by Donald Bogle (Harper).
The Indignant Generation is a fascinating exploration of the development of African American literature after the Harlem Renaissance to the modern day Civil Rights Movement. Lawrence P. Jackson offers readers rare insights into the lives of key players who contributed to the breadth of writing that flourished between 1934 and 1960. From Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes to James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry, Jackson highlights the unique challenges faced by the writers during the time of the Great Depression, Jim Crow, World War II and the Cold War. Dozens of illustrations and photographs enhance this stunning work that celebrates African American artistic and intellectual achievement in writing. Professor Jackson teaches English and African American Studies at Emory University.
Published shortly after the author’s death, and researched for over a decade, Manning Marable’s Malcolm X paints a candid and insightful portrait of Malcolm X. The work builds on Malcolm X’s own autobiography and, using Malcolm’s personal correspondence as well as information gleaned from the files of the FBI and the New York Police Department, provides a more complete and detailed portrait of one of the most enigmatic and iconic figures of the twentieth century. The book explores Malcolm’s many “re-inventions” from hustler and convict to minister and prophet. Manning Marable was a professor of public affairs, history, and African American studies at Columbia University.
In this expansive, meticulously researched and riveting biography of Ethel Waters, Heat Wave by Donald Bogle unveils unknown truths about a mostly neglected trailblazing star. The twentieth century was a turbulent era for African Americans but somehow Waters personified a triumvirate of song, stage, and screen. Waters, with her bold audacity and unwavering talent, blazed the way for many stars including Lena Horne, Josephine Baker, and Dorothy Dandridge. Bogle’s elegant and detailed writing reads like a novel transporting the reader to a glorious era and revealing a compelling story. Donald Bogle teaches at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts and at the University of Pennsylvania.
The BCALA Literary Awards Committee presents the Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation to Teenie Harris, Photographer: Image, Memory, History by Cheryl Finley, Laurence Glasco, and Joe W. Trotter (University of Pittsburgh Press).
Charles “Teenie” Harris was a photographer for The Pittsburgh Courier, one of the oldest and most prestigious Black newspapers in the United States. Before his forty year career with the Courier and well after, Harris captured more than 80,000 images that depict the intimate and progressive life of African Americans in the Pittsburgh community. The images and essays in this historical archive represent a retrospective contribution of great importance of Black American history and life. Finley is an Assistant Professor of Art at Cornell University. Glasco is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh and Trotter is a Professor of History and Social Justice at Carnegie Mellon University.
The inaugural winner for BCALA’s new category Best Poetry Award is Mule & Pear by Rachel Eliza Griffiths (Western Michigan University Press). Honor Books for Poetry are: The Armageddon of Funk by Michael Warr (Tia Chucha Press) and the new black by Evie Shockley (Wesleyan University Press).
Rachel Eliza Griffiths’ Mule & Pear amasses literary characters found on the pages of the works of greats like Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and Edward P. Jones. In many ways Griffiths composes a moving tribute to the African American literary canon, particularly resurrecting beloved characters to give them a new poetic chapter. Poet, painter, and photographer Rachel Eliza Griffiths teaches creative arts at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in New York.
In The Armageddon of Funk Michael Warr wages his own “funky” war using an arsenal of words, ideas, and personal experiences. From his soulful and historicized tribute to the legendary James Brown to his ode to the great Gwendolyn Brooks, this collection traverses the Black experience giving the reader a poetic soundtrack to Black life. Michael Warr is an award winning poet and arts educator and lives in San Francisco.
the new black by Evie Shockley offers a unique remix of history while challenging constructions of identity in the process. Her use of unusual typography and poetic techniques create a fresh and necessary conversation that lends itself to exploration and understanding within and between generations. Evie Shockley is an assistant professor of English at Rutgers University.
Members of the BCALA Literary Awards Jury are: Gladys Smiley Bell (Chair), Hampton University; Jennifer Baxmeyer, Princeton University; Tracy Crawford, Queens Library’s Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center; Makiba Foster, Washington University in St. Louis; Carolyn Garnes, Atlanta, GA; DL Grant, San Antonio Public Library; and John Page, Washington, DC.
BCALA Literary Award Seals are available for purchase here and may be displayed on these 2012 winners as well as all previous winners.