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The Monster She Wrote Podcast

May 5, 2020

In The Gilda Stories, first published in 1991, Jewelle Gomez draws a lush portrait of Gilda, a woman who was turned vampire in the mid-nineteenth century. With the character of Gilda, Gomez challenges the traditional trope of the vampire, as Gilda is a woman of color and a lesbian, but also one who is interested in both a moral code and female empowerment, especially as that concept shifts over the decades. Gomez’s novel also offers an interesting look at America’s past, present, and future, as Gilda travels through time. The story begins in the midst of slavery in Louisiana, as a young girl (the soon-to-be-named Gilda) escapes her bonds. She is aided by women at a brothel, who take care of the young girl and eventually introduce her to the vampire life. The novel then progresses to take readers on a trip through time, seeing such places as turn-of-the-century life in new city San Francisco, a hair salon in 1950s Boston, the theatre scene in 1971 New York City, and a glimpse into 2050.