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The Gilda Stories

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,595 ratings  ·  200 reviews
Before Buffy, before Twilight, before Octavia Butler's Fledgling, there was The Gilda Stories, Jewelle Gomez's sexy vampire novel.

"The Gilda Stories is groundbreaking not just for the wild lives it portrays, but for how it portrays them--communally, unapologetically, roaming fiercely over space and time."--Emma Donoghue, author of Room

"Jewelle Gomez sees right into the hea
Paperback, 25th Anniversary Edition, 288 pages
Published March 29th 2016 by City Lights Publishers (first published April 1st 1991)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  1,595 ratings  ·  200 reviews

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My first encounter with Gilda was by way of the 2015 anthology Ghost: 100 Stories to Read with the Lights On, edited by Louise Welsh. It includes a story from this book, ‘Off-Broadway, 1971’. I was instantly spellbound, and bought The Gilda Stories as soon as I’d finished it. (Literally. I read the story standing up in my kitchen, and ordered the book online before I’d even sat down; that's how rapt I was.)

The Gilda Stories introduces the title character as a slave girl in Louisiana, 1850. Some
I read my first Jewelle L. Goméz short story Storyville 1910 published in the Heiresses of Russ 2011 a year ago. It was about Gilda - the main character – visiting Woodards, the place that used to be her home. I found The Gilda Stories while I was looking for more information about the author and was so happy that I was able to read more about this intriguing black lesbian vampire.

Goméz wrote the book in the early 90ies, way before Buffy and those sparkling Twilight twats and I think if you are
As I enthusiastically told friends I was reading and immensely enjoying this cycle of lesbian vampire stories, I would get vaguely patronizing smiles in response–I guess anything vampire-related gets that reaction these days–forcing me to trumpet all the more Gomez’s dazzling ability to intricately braid together the stuff of history, race, desire, time, and (im)mortality into a series of narratives that are not only compulsively entertaining to read, but poignant and thought provoking as well. ...more
True Reader
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First and foremost, I am not one for vampire novels. Vampires on the silver screen, or even the TV, I can deal with. But I’m afraid Stephanie Meyer ruined vampire literature for me. If you’re a Twilight fan, I’m very sorry, but I deplore the entire series for a number of reason–if you’d like them, well, leave some comments and I’ll write up a separate post for that. Anyway… the vampires I like are the ones from Buffy the Vampire Slayer–Spike, I’ll find a leather jacket like yours someday and ble ...more
wanderer (Para)
I first heard of The Gilda Stories from a Tor article a friend linked. I don't usually read vampire books as I don't like vampires as a trope very much (or urban fantasy as a subgenre), but it's one of this year's r/Fantasy Bingo squares and the concept seemed interesting enough.
"Each time I thought taking a stand, fighting a war would bring the solution to the demons that haunted us. Each time I thought slavery or fanaticism could be banished from the earth with a law or a battle. Each time
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ok constantly wishing I could give books to my teenage self, but rn RLLY wishing I could slam this one back in time, directly into my own face. if I could have had a black lesbian vampire taking me through time, showing me what black & queer love/community have looked like & can look like through time/place, I would have been unstoppable??

but also like what @ Jewelle Gomez has given to us is a vulnerable reflection on the hard work of loving (she touches on many kinds of love), and how challengi
Shalon Lippert
I couldn't get past the 2nd "episode". I found the whole thing terribly boring and realized it was time to give up when I started skimming whole paragraphs. The narrative was too slow and internal and the language and ideas were repetitive, fixating on the same things again and again: family, exile, the past, sharing, social fabric, oral tradition blah blah blah. The story didn't seem to move and felt like I was turning a lump of lead over and over expecting to find something different on the ot ...more
Jun 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes, my spouse got me to read another novel!

When left to my own devises, I tend to stay up into the wee hours of the morning and don't rise again until well into the afternoon, I hate garlic, and I avoid direct sun exposure. These and other habits might expose me as a vampire, except that the closest I come to drinking blood is an occasional glass of sangria.

I'm not really interested in the vampire genre of popular literature, but this one is different. Vampire literature is usually about how
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-and-horror
I wanted to love this but found the protagonist pretty dull and too right all the time. My illustrious book club co-leader Liza pointed out that Gilda functions as a Black lesbian superhero which I get behind 110%; would love to see this as a graphic novel or movie--lots of action and so much scene; transhistorical storyline; epic potential! As a book, the language and description kinda drag and the protag has too much darn integrity to fully capture my interest.
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical-wlw
holy shit........
Priscilla (Bookie Charm)
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
2.5 stars*

The Gilda Stories are a series of episodic tales spanning 200 years, beginning in 1850 and ending in 2050, that follow a black, lesbian vampire. Gilda is a young girl when she escapes slavery and is changed into a vampire as a young adult. The bulk of this story is centered on Gilda's aimless wandering as she comes to terms with her immortality and her connections to her found family.

Before I air out my grievances, I'll start by addressing all the themes I loved. Gilda and her family
Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
[This was the first book I read on a e-reader. It went very quickly, perhaps too quickly. I felt I was eating empty calories or swallowing without chewing. I did greatly appreciate the magnification and the bright backlight of the e-reader. But at what cost or tradeoff to the reading enjoyment? I remain quite agnostic about reading in this format. Please recognize these factors in my review. ]

I enjoyed the story and the writing. I think the premise of an escaped African slave who becomes a vampi
Bogi Takács
Review coming soon IY"H (I'm reviewing it for an SFF website)

Source of the book: Bought with my own money
I JUST. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

I really, really, really loved this.
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘The Gilda Stories’ are a series of tales stretching across 200 years and following an escaped slave, who is renamed Gilda when she becomes a vampire. Gilda and her vampire compatriots are thoughtful in their approach to immortality and careful in their taking of blood. Those vampires that Gilda associates with do not kill their victims, but rather leave them with something in return for their blood, like a pleasant dream. I enjoyed the atmosphere of this novel and its sense of history’s progres ...more
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Some are said to live through the energy of fear. That is their sustenance more than the sharing. The truth is we hunger for connection to life, but it needn't be through horror or destruction. Those are just the easiest links to evoke. Once learned, this lesson mustn't be forgotten. To ignore it, to wallow in death as the white man has done, can only bring bitterness."

This book is amazing, the characters are lovely and the vampire mythology is completely turned on its head to serve Gomez's pur
*For an own voices perspective, read the amazing review over at The Black Lesbian Literary Collective!*

Growth, survival, family and unquestioned lesbian love are key touch stones in this Intersectional Feminist vampire classic. Cont'd on the blog:
Nov 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
Black lesbian vampires! Kinda over-written and purple-prosey, but it is truly so wonderful to read a book with supernatural characters that actually explores issues of queerness, sexism, and racism without tokenization or, frankly, needlessly killing them off for the sake of Art. A perfect vacation book.
ONYX Pages
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

6.5/7 Cowries

Watch my review here:

actual rating: 2.5

I really love the idea of this but for some reason the execution just did not hit home with me. It definitely starts off pretty slow [and it took me way too long to realize that the Gilda in the beginning was NOT the Gilda of the rest of the book], but by the third chapter I was enjoying it more and I thought some of her 'predictions' for the future were very interesting as well. It's much less a 'vampire story' than an introspective story that uses vampirism as kind of a loose
I've always heard this book shorthanded as "the black lesbian vampire novel," and while that's technically true, I think of it more as an Afro-futurist vampire novel that is beautifully character-driven and imbued with queerness, but more especially with chosen family. The relationships Gomez describes have the same weight whether they're romantic or not, and in fact some of the friendships between women in this book very much have the feel of what we now call a queerplatonic relationship to me. ...more
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-f
A book which doesn't age is literature. That's the level of writing.
Then we have a main character's life spanning 150 years in America.
Everything here is about identity, race, gender and living.
It's beautiful and it asks questions.
Each chapter is a slice of that life, at a different period.
Kind of bittersweet to read the 2020's and how spot on it feels for a book written 30 years ealier!

David Anderson
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Among the best reinvisonings of the vampire myth I've read; better than Anne Rice or Chelsea Quinn Yarboro, this is right up there with Tananarive Due's African Immortals series and Octavia Butler's Fledging. Making the protagonist a black lesbian vampire was a stroke of genius.
Kelly W.
I first became aware of this book after several conversations with a friend/colleague, who is writing a dissertation chapter about The Gilda Stories. For whatever reason, I wasn’t aware that the book was about vampires - much less lesbian vampires. I just had a vague idea of speculative fiction floating in my mind, so when I actually realized what was going on, I was even more excited to read the book. If you’re a fan of lgbt+ literature, I’d highly recommend giving this book a try, even if you’ ...more
I really liked the gilda stories. It made me crave more. I wanted to know more about gilda's family. I wanted to see her interact with them more. Her journey is one of solitude when she craves others deeply. That craving is what makes you want to know more about those she craves. She grows so that the desire doesn't make her feel empty. It's as if her craving is transferred to the reader and therefore she doesn't have to explain the others who filter in and out of her world.

I want to own my own
LaToya Hankins
As an avid lover of vampire literature and an avowed fan of black lesbian writings, I was pleased to receive The Gilda Story as a holiday present. I had heard so much about the novel but ironically, didn't know too much about the novel. I was surprised and impressed by the writing and the character development. Each era Gilda exists in feels completely fleshed out through Gomez's attention to details and exceptionally crafted passages. The book takes the reader throughout the United States over ...more
Mar 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story was about a group of Vampyre that had "family units", I guess you can say that they were more refined. Gilda was the name of a very "Old" vampyre how lived in pre Civil War Louisiana. She rescued a young slve girl that had been discovered by a man hiw was prepring to rape her. Gilda rescued her and brought her into her home which was a brothel. "Girl as she was called lived with them as a part of the family. To undestand this unique story I suggest you rad it. Being a big fan of LA Ba ...more
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a pleasure to re-read a classic. In the 25 years since its publication, Jewelle Gomez' lush prose and now-classic story predated the pop culture mania for queer vampires. But of course 'The Gilda Stories' is much more than that. In its eloquent diversion from typical supernatural fare, 'The Gilda Stories' encompasses a culture of blood family, love between women as essential and sexy yet not salacious, and the protagonist's first-person narrative as entirely believable. Set from 1850 to 205 ...more
Sep 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like vampire stories, people who like lesbian stories.
The Gilda Stories, a novel about vampires, but much is a story about longing, living in the past, trying to define oneself by criteria that is inconsistent with the reality of one's existence. Gilda moves though her life, extended through vampirism, searching for a place to call home and wanting a lover who will never leave. Her conflict is her inability to leave her life as a human behind and take on the characteristics of a vampire's life. Gomez's writing is concise and gripping. I ...more
Aug 28, 2018 added it
Shelves: queer-sff
This was the second book I read in August that was 1) originally published in 1991 and 2) heavily informed by feminist and environmentalist thinking. Of the two, the Gilda Stories hold up much better today, 27 years on. There's plenty of technological detail in the futuristic settings that's outdated, but the ideas themselves are still extraordinarily relevant. There is some really gorgeous reflection in these stories about family, love, and community, about the tension between fitting in and fi ...more
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Sirens Conference: The Gilda Stories 2 12 May 16, 2016 09:50PM  

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Jewelle Gomez (b. 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts) is an American writer and cultural worker.

Gomez was raised by her great grandmother, Grace, who was born on Indian land in Iowa to an African American mother and Ioway father. Grace returned to New England before she was 14 when her father died and was married to John E. Morandus, a Wampanoag and descendent of Massasoit, the sachem for whom Massachu

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