The GIlda Stories


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Firebrand Books (1991)

The winner of two Lambda Literary Awards (fiction and science fiction) THE GILDA STORIES is a very American odyssey. Escaping from slavery in the 1850s Gilda’s longing for kinship and community grows over two hundred years. Her induction into a family of benevolent vampires takes her on an adventurous and dangerous journey full of loud laughter and subtle terror.


“Vampires have had a pretty bad press, all things considered. So, too, has the idea that women can find love and fulfillment with one another. To link these elements in a novel might appear to be courting sensationalism. Instead Jewelle Gomez has used the unlikely combination to build an evocative fantasy about the struggle for self and the search for community.

Lush with cultural references Gilda takes us on a journey through African American history from 1850 and the days of enslavement to 200 years later, a time of ecological disaster. From the start we are gripped, by the fear and strength of the escaping slave girl and the weight of her remembrance. By the end we are drained—but lightly—like one of Gilda’s partners in exchange of blood. Gilda is both fun and a nourishment. Above all it is a probing and radical moral tale.”

—Jazz Magazine, London 1992

THE GILDA STORIES is a novel intensely concerned with the ethical implication of human interaction. Although it spans many centuries, many continents, starting in Louisiana in 1850, the novel focuses on relationships rather than places, that at tells its story through precision of language rather than direct historical event. It is a novel about love and trust, and ultimately the uses of power.”

—New Directions for Women, 1991

“A black lesbian vampire who began life as a slave and got her education in a whorehouse is not your typical heroine. But then nothing Jewelle Gomez has written so far has been typical and neither is THE GILDA STORIES. Gomez uses Gilda’s stories to trace what life was life for some black women in American society. She also uses Gilda to paint a bleak picture of the future in which the environment has been severally damage by human excess. The stories don’t end in 2050 when the books does and hopefully Gomez will give readers a look at vampires in the future.”

—Lambda Book Report, 1991

THE GILDA STORIES, a dual parable of the history of black/white relationships and of the timeless experience of being “other” is an entertaining “horror” story that packs a one-two punch. Gomez does a great job making this “sharing the blood” stuff sound strangely seductive, kind of appealing, a little Taoist and certainly feminist. Gomez’s novel is refreshingly upbeat and optimistic, chock full of nice metaphors cautioning against oppression. Gilda’s bite is irresistible.”

—Washington Blade, 1991