Sapphire: From Precious to The Kid


Friday, July 22, 2011

When you’ve invested hours in the lives of characters in a book, you naturally imagine what becomes of them after the last page.  The novelist Sapphire has done the same, in a sequel to her 1996 book Push (which was the basis for the movie Precious).  Fifteen years in the making, Sapphire’s new novel is The Kid.  

Push follows Harlem teenager Claireece “Precious” Jones as she struggles to break out of the grimmest circumstances.  Everything is against Precious: she’s illiterate, HIV-positive, unloved, a victim of incest.  Towards the end of the story, she gives birth to a son, Abdul, and he is “the kid" of the new novel. 

In The Kid, Abdul is nine years old and his mother has just died.  We follow him through a very troubled young adulthood; he is abused and abusive.  But the book offers him some hope when he discovers dance at a Harlem recreation center.  "I inflicted so much pain on his physical body through the abuse he's suffered,” Sapphire told Kurt Andersen. “I wanted him to have joy and power in a positive way."  The novelist also explains the unusual name she gave herself as a young woman in the 1970s. 


Bonus Track: For years, Sapphire was resistant to turning Push into a movie. Then she saw Monster's Ball by director Lee Daniels, and everything changed.


More about Precious: In the fall of 2009, Studio 360's Jenny Lawton talked to the star of the movie, Gabourey Sidibe.


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Produced by:

Michele Siegel

Comments [3]

Pamela from Dallas, TX

Dear Sapphire,

When I heard your name, my first thought was of the "Amos & Andy Show". Given the fact that the sitcom was aired in the early 1950s, I didn't think that many still alive (let alone listeners of NPR) would recall it. As we both know, Sapphire was the name of the Kingfisher's wife.

As for me, I am someone who has spent the majority of his life as a white male. That was until four years ago when I became a 60ish, female. An experience that brought me face to face with not only the prejudices women face, but the additional prejudice against males who become females.

It is a challenge. Especially since I do not have the benefit of growing up female. Not having experienced the daily interaction women engage in, deriving an appreciation for the importance of family, the traumas of seeking a mate & the impact of physical transition as one matures. The identity crisis of "who am I" of women is something I am trying to learn.

And, inspite of this condition, I will share with you that it was the best decision I ever made. Not only do I enjoy the outward accoutrements of womanhood, but also have the benefit of working as a female, as well. The thrill of being able to allow others to appreciate the many skills I possess.

I enjoyed your interview. May you continue to enjoy success.


Jul. 24 2011 08:13 PM

Icant wait to read it i know its gonna be a good book.

Jul. 22 2011 09:58 PM


Jul. 14 2011 10:36 AM

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