Synopses & Reviews
In 2005, celebrated novelist Francisco Goldman married a beautiful young writer named Aura Estrada in a romantic Mexican hacienda. The month before their second anniversary, during a long-awaited holiday, Aura broke her neck while body surfing. Francisco, blamed for Auras death by her family and blaming himself, wanted to die, too. Instead, he wrote Say Her Name
, a novel chronicling his great love and unspeakable loss, tracking the stages of grief when pure love gives way to bottomless pain.
Suddenly a widower, Goldman collects everything he can about his wife, hungry to keep Aura alive with every memory. From her childhood and university days in Mexico City with her fiercely devoted mother to her studies at Columbia University, through their newlywed years in New York City and travels to Mexico and Europe and always through the prism of her gifted writings Goldman seeks her essence and grieves her loss. Humor leavens the pain as he lives through the madness of grief and creates a living portrait of a love as joyous as it is deep and profound.
Say Her Name is a love story, a bold inquiry into destiny and accountability, and a tribute to Aura, who she was and who she would've been.
"Goldman's (The Divine Husband) fifth book is a highly personal account of the author's life in the aftermath of his young wife's drowning. Goldman moves in time from meeting Aura in New York and her harrowing death on Mexico's Pacific Coast to the painful and solitary two years that followed in Brooklyn, marked in part by his mother-in-law's claim that he was responsible for Aura's death. His struggles to exonerate himself from his own conscience, and from his mother-in-law's legal threats, is electric and poignant, encapsulated in painful such moments as the author's discovery of 'the indentations of Aura's scooping fingers like fossils' in the surface of her face scrub soon after her death. Goldman also includes fragments of Aura's fiction and her diary: 'Played Atari like crazy, rearranged my Barbie house' recall her youth in Mexico City, and 'We're on a plane, we've spent most of the day traveling, Paco asleep on my shoulder' illuminate the private moments of the couple's life. Goldman calls this book a novel and employs some novelistic techniques (composite characters, for instance), but the foundation is in truth: messy, ugly, and wildly complicated truth. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"A masterpiece of storytelling and scene-setting." Colm Toibin, The Guardian
"Passionate and moving...Beautifully written... the truth that emerges in this book has less to do with the mystery of [Auras] death...than with the miracle of the astonishing, spirited, deeply original young woman Goldman so adored....So remarkable is this resurrection that at times I felt the book itself had a pulse." The New York Times Book Review
"A heartbreaking novel of loss and grief." O Magazine
"In telling the story of an exuberant young woman coming into her own as a scholar and writer, [Francisco Goldman] finds a kind of haunted solace — and tremendous commemorative power...Published as fiction, Goldman's tribute to his late wife rings devastatingly true." Vogue
"A beautiful act of remembrance, love and understanding. An essential, unforgettable love story and a living testament to an extraordinary woman." Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
"An exceptional book... A love letter to a woman who could have been a great writer....A letter of goodbye from a man falling apart...an amazing tribute, beautifully written, reminiscent of the vulnerability of Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking." The Independent
"'Aura died on July 25, 2007.'Thus opens Francisco Goldman's fourth novel, Say Her Name
, its subject his ambitious, spirited young wife, Aura Estrada, and her accidental death while the couple was on vacation in Mexico." Kassten Alonso, The Oregonian
(Read the entire Oregonian review
About the Author
Francisco Goldman is the author of three novels: The Long Night of White Chickens, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award; The Ordinary Seaman, a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and The Divine Husband. Goldman is also the author of the non-fiction book, The Art of Political Murder: Who killed the Bishop?, which was named a Best Book of the Year by the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Economist. Goldman has been a contributing editor for Harper's magazine, and his fiction, journalism and essays have appeared in publications such as the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, Esquire and the New York Times Magazine. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation grant and the T. R. Fyvel Freedom of Expression Book Award, and was a fellow at the American Academy of Berlin and the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. He currently directs the Premio Aura Estrada/Aura Estrada Prize (www.premioauraestrada.com). Goldman divides his time between Brooklyn and Mexico City.