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When Push Comes to Precious: The Novel, the Film, the Reality

Over the past few months, moviegoers around the country have clamored to see Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009), a critically acclaimed movie recounting the painful story of a young, overweight Black girl living in Harlem. The movie is based on the novel Push, written in 1996 by Sapphire. Now, to inaugurate Black History Month, Sapphire will join us to discuss her award-winning novel.

The daughter of an army sergeant and a member of the Women’s Army Corps, Sapphire moved around the country often as a child. She dropped out of San Francisco City College to move to New York and become a hippie. She eventually graduated in 1993 from Brooklyn College with a degree in modern dance. The following year, she published American Dreams, a collection of poetry cited in Publisher’s Weekly as “one of the strongest debut collections of the nineties.” Inspired by girls she met as a remedial reading teacher in Harlem, Sapphire wrote Push, which has since won numerous literary awards, including the Book-of-the- Month Club Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s First Novelist Award, and in Great Britain. Although Sapphire says she was hesitant to turn her book into a movie, the film has won several awards in its own right: it is the only film to win both the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals Audience Awards. Sapphire has also taught literature, fiction and poetry workshops at universities across the country.

In conjunction with Sapphire’s visit, Jim Nauls and the CMC Office of Student Activities will show Precious on Friday, February 5th at 9:00 PM in Pickford Auditorium.