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By Sapphire (1996)
SIGNED First Paperback Edition, First Printing
DESCRIPTION: It's a bit of a minor miracle that Ramona Lofton, otherwise known by the pen-name Sapphire, even had a writing career to begin with -- one of four siblings raised by a single parent (and an Army brat to boot), she was a homeless high-school dropout who managed to self-fund her GED, then a college dropout and self-professed "wandering hippie" before eventually getting her MFA at Brooklyn College in the mid-1970s, eventually getting involved with slam poetry right at the birth of that movement in the mid-'80s. It's all of these experiences and more that went into her debut novel, 1996's Push, an astounding and controversially graphic look at a young black teen who literally has everything in the world against her (mentally challenged, an incest and abuse survivor, overweight and hard to get along with), which in the linguistically clever style of Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon tells the tale of Precious's eventual triumph literally in the semi-literate, barely comprehensible language that she only knows at the beginning of the tale, the sentence structure and spelling magically improving bit by bit in front of our eyes as Precious frustratingly succeeds and fails and succeeds and fails in a tough special-needs program in New York City. (BONUS: Read CCLaP's 2010 critical review of Push.) It was the first 100 pages of this unfinished novel that started a bidding war in the mainstream publishing industry, eventually landing Sapphire a half-million-dollar advance to complete it; then it was the Oscar-winning Hollywood adaptation and legitimate cultural phenomenon thirteen years later that cemented Sapphire's role as one of the most influential African-American writers of the entire Postmodernist period. Destined to eventually be one of the most important books for collectors of writers of color, and for fans of Millennial-Era fiction in general, its relatively low price today is a steal compared to what its eventual value will be in just another decade or two, a smart acquisition for the young and serious book collector with the long-range view in mind.
CONDITION: Very Good Plus (VG+). Mostly in excellent shape, except for two small bends in the lower-right corner of the front cover (see photos for more). Signed by Sapphire on the half-title page and dated "5/12/97." Please note that this is a first edition of the PAPERBACK version, issued the same month as the author's signature (May 1997, one year after the hardback version). Existing "1" on the copyright page marks this as a first printing as well.
PROVENANCE: Acquired by CCLaP at the Hyde Park Book Fair, Chicago, October 2014.