Read Diverse LGBT: The Gilda Stories Jewelle Gomez
June was Pride month and I was looking for something to read that would suit my mood and fit my “read different” goals. I came across this article 10 Books to Read for Pride Month and The Gilda Stories really caught my attention.
The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez
Published in: 1991
Literary Awards: Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction and Lesbian Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror (1992)
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Find it here: The Gilda Stories
Synopsis from Literary Hub: The Gilda Stories (City Lights Books) by Jewelle Gomez is the original cult classic lesbian vampire story. If you’re a fan of Buffy, Twilight, or TrueBlood, but have ever found yourself thinking, “hmmm… this seems like the same story over again” please, pick up The Gilda Stories. This novel follows the journey of Gilda, a young black woman in 1850s Louisiana who learns about freedom while working in a brothel, where she is soon initiated into eternal life (and, you know, falls in love with women and stuff). But don’t stop there: The Gilda Stories isn’t all romance and fluff. It dives unflinchingly into explorations of blackness, radical ecology, re-definitions of family, and the politics of eroticism. 2016 is the 25th anniversary of the original publication of The Gilda Stories, proving that powerful literature is the best brand of immortality.
Book Worm’s Thoughts: I really enjoyed this new take on the traditional vampire myth. Gomez’s vampires are more than human but they are still human at heart. They form close attachments and build non traditional families for themselves. Although they need to feed on blood, they believe the process is an exchange. While they are taking what they need, they give something back to the unsuspecting victim — normally a gift in the form of dreams or feelings that make the mortal feel better about themselves and life.
The central character Gilda is a black woman from Mississippi. She was an escaped slave who despite her long life never forgets the horrors that slavery visited on her and other slaves. As a result she is constantly seeking ways to improve life for the mortals she encounters. Gilda loves women but that is a really subtle part of the narrative. There is no overt sexuality in the story. The meetings with the women who become her lovers are more sensual and are based on mutual respect, care and love.
This is a well written, thoughtful story of what eternal life really means and about the debt owed to those who maintain it. It is also a social commentary about the way attitudes have changed over the years and how they could change again.
I had several quotes I really liked and then realized they contained spoilers so I couldn’t share them. So if you want to understand how well written and beautiful this book is, you will just have to read it for yourselves.
Who would like this: I would recommend this to those who enjoy vampire fiction but are looking for a new twist on the same old themes. This book adds new ideas and concepts to the myth. It’s also a good pick for those who don’t typically enjoy this kind of book because it is so much more than a traditional vampire story. It is a human story.
Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: The Gilda Stories
We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think?