Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman
A Novel

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Synopsis

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 Aura’s 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.
 

About Francisco Goldman

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Francisco Goldman is the author of three previous works of fiction (The Long Night of White Chickens, The Ordinary Seaman, and The Divine Husband), and one work of nonfiction, The Art of Political Murder. His first novel, The Long Night of White Chickens, was awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and The Ordinary Seaman, his second novel, was a finalist for the International IMPAC-Dublin Literary Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Fiction. He has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and is a Fellow at the New York Public Library Center for Scholars and Writers. Currently the Allan K. Smith Professor of English at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, Francisco's writing has appeared in publications including the New Yorker, Harper's, the New York Times Magazine, Esquire, and the New York Review of Books. He lives in New York City and Mexico City. Winner of the prestigious Audie Award for his recording of Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic by Gordon S. Wood, veteran actor Robert Fass is equally at home in a wide variety of styles, genres, characters, and dialects. Robert also earned an Earphones Award for his narration of Francisco Goldman's novel Say Her Name, which was named one of the Best Audiobooks of 2011 by AudioFile magazine. He has given voice to modern and classic fiction writers alike, including Ray Bradbury, Joyce Carol Oates, Isaac Asimov, Jeffrey Deaver, and John Steinbeck, plus nonfiction works in history, health, journalism, and business. For eleven years, Robert was featured weekly on the InTouch network, broadcasting selections from the New Yorker magazine to the visually impaired.
 
Published April 5, 2011 by Grove Press. 368 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Say Her Name

Kirkus Reviews

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Shortly after Aura’s death, her domineering mother Juanita begins a campaign against Goldman, suggesting that he was in some way responsible for her death and threatening to bring a lawsuit against him.With pathologically maternal petulance, she refuses to let Goldman have some of Aura’s ashes fo...

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The New York Times

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The novelist Francisco Goldman remembers his wife in “Say Her Name,” and the poet Meghan O’Rourke grieves for her mother in “The Long Goodbye.”

Apr 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

The New York Times

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The novelist Francisco Goldman remembers his wife in “Say Her Name,” and the poet Meghan O’Rourke grieves for her mother in “The Long Goodbye.”

Apr 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

The New York Times

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Francisco Goldman’s passionate, moving novel takes as its subject his tragically short marriage to the fiction writer Aura Estrada, who died in a bodysurfing accident in 2007, when she was 30.

Apr 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

The Guardian

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Ten or 15 minutes later, stepping back in through the white curtain, I instantly sensed a vacuumed-out stillness around Aura's bed, a nuclear-blast brightness, and the assistant surgeon told me Aura had died minutes before.

Aug 05 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

The Guardian

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Aura's mother, Juanita, who made every sacrifice to have her only daughter, a PhD student in Spanish literature, educated in Texas and New York, spoke her final words to her ageing son-in-law over her Aura's dying body: "Esto es tu culpa" – "This is your fault."

Jul 24 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

The Guardian

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When I interviewed Francisco Goldman in New York in 2008, he had just published The Art of Political Murder, an investigation into the killing of a Catholic priest in Guatemala, where his mother was from.

Aug 05 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Goldman's soulful memoir lovingly recalls his brief marriage to Aura Estrada, a Mexican writer and graduate student, and revisits her tragic death in a surfing accident.

Jul 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

The Wall Street Journal

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In the wrenching autobiographical novel "Say Her Name" (Grove, 349 pages, $24), Francisco Goldman describes the placid origins of his story's tragedy: "A wind blows ripples across a calm sea and those ripples, providing the wind with something to get traction on, are blown into waves."

Apr 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

NPR

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The story ends with the axolotl hoping that he's succeeded in communicating something to the man, in bridging their silent solitudes, and that the reason the man no longer visits the aquarium is because he's off somewhere writing a story about what it is to be an axolotl.The first time Aura and I...

Jul 14 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

Book Reporter

On August 20, 2005, journalist and novelist Francisco Goldman and Columbia University graduate student Aura Estrada wed in Mexico.

Apr 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

Francisco Goldman's wife, Aura Estrada, died unexpectedly in 2007.

Mar 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

Los Angeles Times

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(When recalling his first meeting with Juanita, who is only a few years older than he, Goldman describes "a maternal Prospero, all powers waned, helplessly spying on a closely huddled, inexplicably enamored Miranda and Caliban.") Late in the book Goldman mentions a female friend of his who said t...

May 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

The Telegraph

As he reconstructs Aura’s Mexican childhood – her suffocating relationship with her mother, her absent father, her academic brilliance and pressing sense, as she turned 30, of wanting to give birth to a child, publish a book, to reach the milestones of a lived life – Goldman asks hims...

Aug 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

San Francisco Chronicle

So begins "Say Her Name," Francisco Goldman's potent fourth novel, in which a novelist, also called Francisco Goldman, grapples with the death of his wife, Aura Estrada.

Apr 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

Tampa Bay Times

In the publicity material for the book, he says, "I've surrounded Aura and myself with a fictionalized family and friends for numerous reasons, including the duty to protect, to keep secrets, including our own secrets, while providing the space to write a true account of our lives — Aura's and my...

Apr 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

Bookmarks Magazine

The Story: Francisco Goldman's semiautobiographical novel captures the life of his young wife, Aura Estrada, a doctoral student and an aspiring writer whose life ended in 2007 in a tragic accident only two years into their marriage.

Apr 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

Open Salon

We come to observe life through the lenses of her talent, ambition, astute critiques of academia, humor, Hello Kitty toaster, dresses, travels and culture shocks, and her deep and bracing loves: literature, her troubled mother, her husband.

Aug 09 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

The Paris Review

This book was in no way written as a self-help book.

May 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

Statesman.com

The danger of an author as powerful and panoramic as Francisco Goldman writing a book about the untimely death of his young bride is that he comes close to solidifying a new genre of literary exploitation, of which works like Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking," Joyce Carol Oates' "A Wid...

May 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Say Her Name: A Novel

Reader Rating for Say Her Name
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