Say Her Name

Francisco Goldman

Say Her Name

Novelist Francisco Goldman married a beautiful young writer named Aura Estrada in a romantic Mexican hacienda in the summer of 2005. 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. But 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. 3.6 out of 5 based on 8 reviews
Say Her Name

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Family & Lifestyle, Biography
Format Hardback
Pages 368
RRP £14.99
Date of Publication August 2011
ISBN 978-1611856026
Publisher Grove Press
 

Novelist Francisco Goldman married a beautiful young writer named Aura Estrada in a romantic Mexican hacienda in the summer of 2005. 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. But 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.

Read an extract from the book | NYTimes.com

Reviews

The New York Times

Robin Romm

Passionate and moving … while Goldman’s gifts as a reporter are on full display (he interviews Estrada’s estranged father, plumbs her diaries, researches the science of waves), the truth that emerges in this book has less to do with the mystery of her death — which, at its core, is the mystery of all tragic deaths — than with the miracle of the astonishing, spirited, deeply original young woman Goldman so adored.

07/04/2011

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The Observer

Tim Adams

[A] beautiful and often unbearably sad memoir … the book is never mea culpa, however, except to the extent that Goldman cannot help but see himself as in some way an accessory to the accident, an unplumbed well of "if onlys". It is always, rather, mi amor. In this sense the author's response to his wife's death is self-consciously of a piece with the immemorial writer's rage against mortality.

24/07/2011

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The Times

Helen Dunmore

Say Her Name presents and then interrogates two mysteries. The first is the state and nature of love and the second the violation of that love by sudden accidental death. But behind this avowed narrative purpose there is another, which is to recreate the vivid living presence of the dead. This could easily become a manipulative enterprise. An equal risk is that the writing may become mired in self-pity, egotism and mawkishness. Remarkably, Francisco Goldman not only recognises these traps but also avoids them.

30/07/2011

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The Evening Standard

Sarah Sands

… what makes Say Her Name so unforgettable, apart from the beauty of the writing, is that the book is written partly as a love story but also partly as a moral trial.

04/08/2011

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The Guardian

Maya Jaggi

Beyond its startling vivisection of grief, the book's redeeming beauty lies in its precise evocation of a transformative love, filled with tenderness and comic routines.

05/08/2011

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The Washington Post

Roxana Robinson

How much of our own lives should writers use as material? What should we reveal and what hold back? What, for a writer, is privacy? Do writers even have private lives? … the answer is that writers have no private lives: We write what we know. Goldman here bears witness to his anguish, which is mighty.

14/04/2011

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The New York Times

Dwight Garner

The story of the accident itself and the attempts to save her life, which the author withholds until the end of the book, are riveting. But Say Her Name is a book you can never quite give yourself over to. You’ve read this story (grizzled older writer, life-giving younger woman) a hundred times, and by robbing this version of its grainy authenticity, he’s robbed it of something essential. You’re too busy wondering which details and dialogue are real — the scenes from her childhood? from the early days of her parents’ marriage? — to submit to the spell being cast.

12/04/2011

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The Sunday Times

Stephen Amidon

The scenes describing their brief life together possess real charm ... Unfortunately, Goldman’s fervour leads to passages that are considerably less affecting, such as his fantasy about his wife returning to him in her favourite chair: “I imagined her descending slowly down a long shaft of yellow-pink translucent light, in a sitting position, holding a book open in her hands, landing softly in the chair, returned from her long, mysterious journey.” In the end, the author’s greatest virtue, his emotional generosity, turns out to be his chief liability. At half the length, Say Her Name would have been twice the book.

31/07/2011

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