WBEZ | Sapphire http://www.wbez.org/tags/sapphire Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 'Push' author Sapphire revisits childhood abuse in second novel http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/push-author-sapphire-revisits-childhood-abuse-second-novel-106243 <p><p><strong><em>[Trigger Warning] </em></strong></p><p>Sapphire does not shy away from difficult subjects.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sapphire%20penguin%20press.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Sapphire (Courtesy of Penguin)" />The author, who chose her pen name as a salute to strong black women, is known for penning devastatingly realized stories of childhood sexual abuse and trauma. Her 1996 novel <em>Push&nbsp;</em>tells the story of Claireece &ldquo;Precious&rdquo; Jones, an illiterate, obese, 16-year-old girl pregnant with a second child by her own father. The novel was adapted in 2009, and the resulting film, <em>Precious</em>, garnered many accolades, including two Academy Awards. But the film also stirred controversy with its graphic depictions of incest and domestic abuse. &nbsp;</p><p>Sapphire was herself the victim of childhood sexual assault. In 2010 <a href="http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/how-author-created-film-character-precious-through-her-own-sexual-abuse-6735992.html">she told the <em>London Evening Standard</em></a> that her father, a Korean War vet, had molested her at age eight. Her mother abandoned their family five years later.</p><p>&ldquo;It was traumatic &mdash; but to be left with our crazy dad, doubly so,&quot; she told the paper.</p><p>She created the character precious from an amalgam of her own experiences and those of students she later mentored in Harlem.</p><p>Sapphire followed <em>Push</em> with a sequel, <em>The Kid</em>, in 2011. As the novel opens, we learn that Precious has died of AIDS, leaving her nine-year-old son Abdul alone in the world.</p><p>Abdul is sent to live in a Catholic orphanage, and what befalls him there is brutal and heartbreaking -- and all too familiar to anyone who follows the ever-unfolding story of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. (A new wrinkle in that story unfolded just this week, as files released by the Diocese of Joliet <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/joliet_romeoville/chi-open-files-part-of-settlement-for-priest-sex-abuse-victim-20130320,0,440885.story">revealed decades of abuse</a> hidden by high-level clergy.)</p><p>Abdul is sexually assaulted by a priest during his time in the orphanage. And as sometimes happens to those who have been abused, he goes on in turn to become an abuser, raping younger, weaker boys living in the orphanage.</p><p>&ldquo;While numerous heterosexual black male writers and critics have bemoaned the . . . one-dimensional portrait of black man as victimizer, few have been interested in or have had the courage to explore the obvious other end of the stick: the black male as victim of sexual abuse,&rdquo; Sapphire said at a talk in Chicago last week, reading from a Q &amp; A section published alongside her novel. &ldquo;<em>The Kid</em>, among other things, begins an accurate portrayal of what happens to many young males who have been abused and their sometimes hideous response.&rdquo;</p><p>The results for Abdul are devastating, as they were for his mother. And while <em>Push</em> addressed the failure of the nuclear family to protect its children, <em>The Kid</em> takes up the failure of institutions charged with their care.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re really looking at the abandoning of the social contract in a way we didn&rsquo;t see in <em>Push</em>,&rdquo; Sapphire said. &ldquo;That was something I really wanted to show: What happens when everything except the soul of the individuals fails?&rdquo;</p><p>Sapphire read two passages from <em>The Kid</em> during her appearance at Chicago Public Library. We&rsquo;ve included an excerpt of her talk here in audio form, but please be warned. . . . &nbsp;</p><p><strong><em>TRIGGER WARNING</em>: <em>The book excerpt Sapphire reads here includes a graphic rape scene</em></strong><em>, </em>in addition to a later scene which shows some redemption and healing for her main character. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a></em>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="https://soundcloud.com/chicago-amplified/a-conversation-with-u-s">Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s</a></em>&nbsp;<em>vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Sapphire spoke at an event presented by Chicago Public Library in March. Click</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/sapphire-discusses-kid-106224">here</a>&nbsp;to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 23 Mar 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/push-author-sapphire-revisits-childhood-abuse-second-novel-106243 Sapphire Discusses 'The Kid' http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/sapphire-discusses-kid-106224 <p><p>Bestselling author <strong>Sapphire</strong> converses with <strong>Donna Seaman</strong>, Senior Editor at Booklist, to discuss her novel <em>The Kid</em>. <em>The Kid</em> is Sapphire&#39;s second novel and tells the electrifying story of Abdul Jones, the son of Push&#39;s unforgettable heroine, <em>Precious</em>.</p><p>Famed in the worlds of literature, poetry and literacy--and an extraordinary public speaker--Sapphire is first and foremost a poet and performer. She is the author of <em>American Dreams</em>, cited by <em>Publisher&#39;s Weekly</em> as &#39;One of the strongest debut collections of the nineties;&#39; and <em>Black Wings &amp; Blind Angels</em>, of which <em>Poets &amp; Writers</em> declared, &#39;With her soul on the line in each verse, her latest collection retains Sapphire&#39;s incendiary power to win hearts and singe minds.&#39;</p><p>More information on this event <a href="http://www.chipublib.org/events/details/id/99774/">here.</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/StoryWeek-webstory_13.jpg" title="" /></div><p>Recorded live Monday, March 18, 2013 at the Harold Washington Library Center.</p></p> Mon, 18 Mar 2013 11:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/sapphire-discusses-kid-106224