Sapphire's "The Kid" won't get Hollywood treatment

Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:08am EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sapphire's first book became the unlikely Oscar-winning movie "Precious," but the author isn't expecting more Hollywood gold from her follow-up novel which features harrowing passages of rape and sexual abuse.

Her first novel, "Push," about an obese, illiterate, sexually abused, Harlem teenage mother nicknamed "Precious", catapulted to No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list after the film version became an unlikely success -- 13 years after her the book's 1996 release.

Yet Sapphire, whose shocking, graphic style has invited previous controversy, is still not compromising her story or strong language to soften up her book for Hollywood this time around.

In "The Kid", Precious, the heroine which launched actress Gabourey Sidibe's career with an Oscar nomination, is killed off at the outset. Her abusive mother, Mary, the role that won Mo'Nique an Oscar for supporting actress, is also missing.

"An exploitative (film) version of 'The Kid,' especially emphasizing his sexuality, could destroy this book," Sapphire told Reuters in an interview. "With a movie, you've got that visual image. Gabourey is now 'Precious' for many hundreds of thousands of people. Mo'Nique is Mama, that's fixed. I am not ready for that to happen with this novel yet."

Sapphire said "The Kid," which follows the wretched life of Precious' son, Abdul, or "J.J." is also "riskier" material. The book includes vivid depictions of Abdul being savagely beaten in foster care, sexually abused by Catholic brothers in an orphanage and of Abdul raping a younger boy.

Sapphire, 60, also an acclaimed poet, believes her book would adapt better as a dance performance by, say, top U.S. choreographer Bill T. Jones.

Jones's partner, Bjorn Amelan, told Reuters "there is a great respect from Bill toward Sapphire and his curiosity is very much peaked."   Continued...

<p>Sapphire, author of the novel "Push," arrives at the AFI Fest 2009 gala screening of the new film "Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire" in Hollywood November 1, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>