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Book Club with Dick Warner

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Precious based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire

Last month, you the viewers chose Precious based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire as March's book of the month. We invited viewers to read along with us and send in their thoughts and to participate with their book clubs. Today we will chat about the book with the writer broadcaster and Irish Examiner books' reviewer Dick Warner and 3 members of a Kildare book club.
Dick Warner is our books' expert and should be used for the synopsis and to give context.

He describes himself as a 'writer, broadcaster and environmentalist'. He is a graduate of Trinity and has lived and worked in a number of different countries. For many years he was an RTE radio producer before taking early retirement to concentrate on his personal interests and to do free-lance work.

He is best known to the public as a writer and presenter of Television documentaries. 'Waterways', a twenty-four part series, and 'Voyage', an eighteen part series, reflected his love of boats and water. Both series were very successful and were shown all over the world.

'Spirit of Trees', an eight part series, reflected his interest in botany in general and trees in particular. He has made other programmes on wildlife and the environment and has written books and many articles on such topics. He writes a regular column as well as book reviews for The Irish Examiner and several magazines.

Dick lives with his wife and two children on a small-holding in rural Co Kildare. He is a keen organic vegetable gardener, collects trees and keeps poultry. He says he has no ambitions to be completely self-sufficient but is trying to practice what he preaches by living a relatively 'green' life-style.

3 Book Club members:

1. Lelia Cocoman
2. Jacqui Byrne
3. Sile Agnew

Synopsis by Dick Warner:-

'Precious' is a girl's name. She is a sixteen year old African-American living in a tenement in Harlem. The novel opens with her being expelled from school because she is pregnant for the second time. The father of both babies is her own father. She is also obese, totally illiterate, has an attitude problem and very bad taste in clothes.

Her father is not currently at home but her mother is equally abusive - mentally, physically and sexually. So Precious is just about as disadvantaged as it's possible for a modern American to be. The novel tells the story of how she battles to overcome this and give herself a life.

It has an unusual publishing history. The author, known as Sapphire (her real name is Romona Lofton) started writing it in 1993 and it's based on her experiences as a remedial English teacher. Its original title was 'Push'. Then it was worked on by a series of screenwriters, notably a man called Geoffrey Fletcher, and became a movie - with a considerable amount of help from Oprah Winfrey.

The movie was also called 'Push' but the title was changed to 'Precious' when it was discovered that another movie had already used the title 'Push'. It won lots of awards, including two Oscars. Then a new version of the novel was published earlier this year with the title 'Precious', and that's what we've been reading.

Precious based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire
Publisher: Vintage
Retailing at €10