The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde
The Cancer Journals is an intimate, poetic and invigorating account of the experience of breast cancer, from biopsy to mastectomy, told by the great feminist and activist Audre Lorde.
Moving between journal entry, memoir, and essay, Lorde fuses the personal and political to reflect on the many questions breast cancer raises: questions of survival, sexuality, prosthesis and self-care. It is a journey of survival, friendship, and self-acceptance. First published 1980.
'A brave, beautiful book that could double as a handbook to accompany anyone on their journey through cancer' - Jackie Kay, New Statesman
'Grief, terror, courage, the passion for survival and for more than survival, are here in the searchings of a great poet' - Adrienne Rich
'This book teaches me that with one breast or none, I am still me' - Alice Walker
'Lorde's big heart and fierce mind are at full strength on each page of this deeply personal and deeply political collection ... A raw reckoning with illness and death as well as a challenge to the conventional expectations of women with cancer. More universally, Lorde's rage and the clarity that follows offer us a blueprint for facing our mortality and living boldly in the time we have. This empowering compilation is heartbreaking, beautiful, and timeless.' - Kirkus STARRED REVIEW
'Radiates with rebellion, even decades later... she is both brave and right. Embracing her one-breasted self, Lorde refuses to render invisible her difference and the experience of pain that is somehow embarrassing to others... There is inspiration in Lorde's position, for me and for all women who have spent time in doctors' offices and surgeries... Making my way through the book's pages, I found a different model of feminist power - not a sidestepping of sickness, but a defiant avowal of the reality of pain and respect for the transformed self it leaves behind.' - Rafia Zakaria, Guardian
Audre Lorde was a writer, feminist and civil rights activist - or, as she famously put it, 'Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet'. Born in New York in 1934, she had her first poem published while she was still in high school. After stints as a factory worker, ghost writer, social worker, X-ray technician, medical clerk, and arts and crafts supervisor, she became a librarian in Manhattan and gradually rose to prominence as a poet, essayist and speaker, anthologised by Langston Hughes, lauded by Adrienne Rich, and befriended by James Baldwin. She was made Poet Laureate of New York State in 1991, when she was awarded the Walt Whitman prize; she was also awarded honorary doctorates from Hunter, Oberlin and Haverford colleges. She died of cancer in 1992, aged 58.
Publication Date: 5 November 2020