Corregidora meets its readers at the intersection of racial and sexual trauma. This powerful book, first published in 1975, tells the story of Ursa Corregdira as she reckons with both her violent family history and her experience as a woman navigating her own intimate relationships.
Ursa is a talented blues singer, making her living performing in bars. After a violent encounter with her husband leaves her unable to have children, she becomes consumed with the generations that came before her, and the generations that she can no longer produce. Told though conversations, inner-dialogue, and memory, we piece together a painful family history passed down from Corregidora’s grandmother and mother.
There’s so much packed into this short book, from a woman’s right to sexual autonomy, to the psychological impact of the male gaze, to the lingering effects of intergenerational trauma. What struck me the most was the sense of loneliness. Ursa is desired for her talent as a singer and for her body, but rarely for who she is – the intersectionality of black womanhood that is still relevant today. She contends with her inability to “make generations”, which highlights the question of what society values in a woman.
The language in this book is extremely raw and visceral with an transparency unlike anything I’ve read before. The prose is colloquial and accessible which allows you to feel deeply for and with Ursa. Corregiadora is the most honest portrayal of womanhood I’ve encountered, and I am so incredibly glad to have discovered Gayl Jones.