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.