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Pass the Story


Toni Morrison


Discover a lost masterpiece

Gayl Jones was only 26 when Corregidora was published in 1975. Toni Morrison was her editor, before she began her own writing career, and this influential, searing novel was hailed as a masterpiece by writers such as James Baldwin, Maya Angelou and John Updike.

Corregidora spurred a new wave in African-American literature. It predates Alice Walker’s The Colour Purple, Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Octavia Butler’s Kindred – exploring themes such as the inherited trauma of slavery and sexual and racial violence. And importantly, it put a black woman’s experience at the centre of the narrative. Corregidora has been unavailable in the UK for two decades and we are very proud to publish this remarkable book for a new generation of readers.


Tayari Jones


A key theme from the book is passing stories on to keep them alive.

With this in mind, the Virago Modern Classics team has launched a #PassTheStory book chain, starting with three proof copies from three members of the Virago team who have read and loved Corregidora.

Echoing the blues tradition of call and response, which Gayl Jones takes inspiration from in her writing, we will pass Corregidora from one reader to the next. Throughout the book’s journey, we will highlight key themes and share our reactions to this this extraordinary novel.


Pass the Story


Key Themes and Discussion Points:

  • In what ways is music and the blues/jazz used as a metaphor throughout the novel?
  • In terms of the canon, is this a book that you have known about or read before, and does it fit with what you know to be your idea of the canon?
  • A lot of books that are published about the black experience are often centred around ‘black trauma’ do you think this is why this is a lost classic and even though it deals it trauma, does it still need a place on the ‘canon’?
  • Academic Sarah Churchwell says of Corregidora ‘Reading Corredigora you see the ghosts of Beloved’. In what ways is Corregidora like Beloved or Toni Morrison’s other novels?
  • Are there any other novels that you have read that have similar themes?
  • What does this novel say about the relationship between mothers and children?
  • What did you think about the male characters Mutt and Tadpole?
  • What was Gayl trying to say by juxtaposing the two central female characters of Ursa and Cat?
  • The book is a very visceral reading experience with graphic language and explicit themes. In does this make the reader feel?
  • The novel is made up of dialogue, memory and dream sequences. Why do you think Gayl Jones decided to disrupt the traditional novel form?
  • This book was published in 1975 when Gayl Jones was only 26. In what ways was Corregidora so ahead of its time?
  • Described is as among the most important 20th century works of African American literature, why then is it a lost classic?
  • Do you think that books like Corredigora have a role in teaching a new generation about the present by educating them about the past?


James Baldwin

Join the conversation yourself using #PassTheStory and #CorregidoraVMC.


Songs to Listen to as you read Corregidora:





Also available from Gayl Jones: