• Amy Toledano

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde

What is it?

A memoir of Audre Lorde's young life, detailing her experiences of growing up in New York as a person of colour, and her self-discovery as a young, gay, African-American writer.

What's it all about?

This is an extremely open, raw account from poet Audre Lorde, in which she expresses the challenges of growing up female, gay and black in the late 1940's to mid 1950's. Beginning from a young age, Lorde divulges the details of feeling like an outsider, from her strict parents and two sisters, and the common instances of racial and gender fueled abuse in school, from her friends, teachers, classmates and total strangers. Aptly giving this book the unique genre of Biomythography, which is a mix of biography, history and myth, we can see that the prose within this work, is some of Lorde's most beautiful and daunting, creating images that are both aggressively violent and incredibly moving with absolute ease.

Lorde uses her relationships with women as the focus for much of the book, including her relationship with her mother which was often stilted and rarely warm and how that relationship tended to set the tone for many of the women she found herself getting involved with.

How Did It Make Me Feel?

Reading this book made me feel so, so many things.

This is the first book I have read by Lorde, and for this I am grateful. It definitely has given me a deeper understanding of the woman she was, and will give any other books I read by Lorde moving forward, an even more powerful effect.

Reading this memoir as a young, white woman from Australia, living in the UK, I felt incredibly lucky be exposed to such a personal account. If ever I understood my privilege, it was while I was reading this book.

The experience of being a woman is so perfectly conveyed here, that I felt myself feeling the pain and anguish that Lorde so simply describes immediately. I also felt myself falling in love with most of the women Lorde describes, as the romanticized versions of these women creates a sort of goddess-like haze around them and I felt valued and included by her words.

Who does it remind me of?

Audre Lorde is so unique in her writing that this can only really remind me of, Audre Lorde.

Where Can I Get It?

All good book-sellers.

Anything Else?

This is a good one, especially for people who like feminist writing, or anyone who loves a good autobiography or memoir. Be warned though, this is one of those novels that absorbs you so deeply you'll end up reading it until the wee hours of morning.

Amy x

Book information-

Paperback: 320 pages. Publisher: Penguin Classics (5 July 2018). Language: English. ISBN-10: 0241351081 . ISBN-13: 978-0241351086. Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm