Zami is an achingly beautiful autobiography that explores poet, essayist, and activist Audre Lorde's childhood and early adulthood, growing up as a Black lesbian poet in New York City in the 30s and finishing before her rise to fame in the 60s. Her language is sensual and frank as she writes of the smell of pounding garlic in her mother's mortar and pestle, the sound of her sisters whispering stories to each other late at night, the taste of the apricot brandy passed among friends at a New Years' Eve party in a cold-water walk-up. Lorde's experiences in the Greenwich Village lesbian bars of the 1950s are fascinating, as is reading about how relentlessly many of the women in even those spaces try to define her by whatever part of her identity is most comfortable for them. Ultimately, the book is a tender and unflinching homage to the women who've shaped Lorde's life.
"ZAMI is a fast-moving chronicle. From the author's vivid childhood memories in Harlem to her coming of age in the late 1950s, the nature of Audre Lorde's work is cyclical. It especially relates the linkage of women who have shaped her . . . Lorde brings into play her craft of lush description and characterization. It keeps unfolding page after page."--Off Our Backs
About the Author
A writer, activist, and mother of two, Audre Lorde grew up in 1930s Harlem. She earned a master's degree in library science from Columbia University, received a National Endowment for the Arts grant for poetry, and was New York State's Poet Laureate from 1991 to 1993. She is the author of twelve books, including ZAMI and THE BLACK UNICORN. Lorde died of cancer at the age of fifty-eight in 1992.