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Audre Lorde’s Zami (1982) is an autobiographical novel in which the author draws extensively on her life experiences as an African American lesbian writer. Due to the autobiographical dimensions within the work, scholars have previously critiqued Zami as a genre text, reading the book specifically as a female memoir, a lesbian novel, a queer coming-out Bildungsroman, a slave narrative or, broadly, a novel of black feminism. Beyond these conventional approaches, this essay instead focuses on some of the ways in which Lorde’s personal experiences and memories are comprehensively shifted into larger rubrics (cultural, political) in both realistic and abstract styles. Taking a poststructuralist approach to language and the world on one side, while identifying ancestral, cultural, and mythic strata on the other, Lorde violates any so-called conventional form of autobiography. Read in these critical contexts, Zami can be critiqued as a counter-narrative actively transgressing a suite of oppressions. This is no simple autobiography, and at the intersection of conflicting forces, there appears her relationship with her mother, a connection which serves as a symbolic nexus wherein the personal and the collective are combined. When read through an autoethnographic lens, ostensibly contradictory impulses are reconciled: Zami stages and codifies narratives of both oppression and liberation.