In the UK, the writing of Doris Lessing has frequently been associated with left-wing politics and the second-wave feminist movement. Critics have concentrated primarily on issues of class and gender and have focused their attention on novels published in the 1950s and 1960s. This essay suggests that Lessing's work is over-ripe for reassessment in relation to ideas from post-colonial theory. Her writing repeatedly addresses questions about national identity and its imbrications with ‘race’. These ideas intersect in complex ways with her more familiar analysis of gender and class. This essay discusses Lessing's recent novel The Sweetest Dream (2001), which was widely read as an attack on the political idealism of the 1960s. It relates the novel to her collection of essays, African Laughter (1992), her recent essay on the situation in Zimbabwe, ‘The Jewel of Africa’ (2003) and the second volume of her autobiography, Walking in the Shade (1997). Zimbabwe (previously Southern Rhodesia) is of crucial importance in these works. The article explores how Lessing makes use of notions of city, home and memory that can be instructively compared with some of Toni Morrison's ideas in her novel Beloved (1987) and the essays ‘Home’ (1998) and ‘The Site of Memory’ (1990). Lessing revises the notion of ‘home’ so that it becomes capable of both recognizing racial and national differences and moving outside them. She also interprets memory as productive for the individual and the nation only when it becomes, as Morrison would say, ‘rememory’: when it can acknowledge the importance of imagination in dealing with trauma and thus suggest the fluctuating, mobile status of identity. The article demonstrates that similar ideas about home and memory are present in her fiction, essay and autobiography, indicating that her intention is to explore generic classification and blur the boundaries between different methods of writing personal and political history. Lessing's work strongly suggests the possibility that apparently ‘fictional’ writings may be more fruitful than ostensibly factual ones in allowing individuals and nations to make sense of their immediate pasts.