By Audre Lorde

My rating: 5 stars

Goodreads Rating: 4.49

Genre: Essay Anthology

Format Read: Audiobook

Goodreads summary: A collection of fifteen essays written between 1976 and 1984 gives clear voice to Audre Lorde’s literary and philosophical personae. These essays explore and illuminate the roots of Lorde’s intellectual development and her deep-seated and longstanding concerns about ways of increasing empowerment among minority women writers and the absolute necessity to explicate the concept of difference—difference according to sex, race, and economic status. The title Sister Outsider finds its source in her poetry collection The Black Unicorn (1978). These poems and the essays in Sister Outsider stress Lorde’s oft-stated theme of continuity, particularly of the geographical and intellectual link between Dahomey, Africa, and her emerging self.

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A couple of years ago, I read Zami, a memoir/biomythography (her word) and I loved hearing about Lorde’s life and her perspective on the way her life fits into the world around her. When I saw that someone had made a compilation of many of her speeches and essays, I was excited to hear more about the way she thought. This book certainly did not disappoint, and quite literally every essay had me hooked.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Audre Lorde is a black lesbian feminist woman who worked at universities, travelled, and is most famous for her poetry. She also wrote and spoke at great length about the problems facing black women and black lesbians in America and across the globe. Because Sister Outsider is entirely prose, the latter was the focus of this book.

Lorde is just such an incredible writer and speaker that I flew through this book. Despite being published decades earlier, the topics Lorde speaks about still feel timely today. She writes about the intersection of racism, homophobia, and sexism in America, the way white women are failing black women in their misguided attempts at feminism, and the way black women are failing each other. She has a way of talking about larger societal issues in such an incredibly personal way that you can establish an immediate emotional connection to the topic at hand. Even in interviews she has such an artful way of speaking that makes even the most difficult of topics fascinating.

I would highly recommend this book, it has (unfortunately) truly stood the test of time to still being relevant today.