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Say Her Name

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  2,163 Ratings  ·  423 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 Aura’s death by her family and blaming himself, wanted to die, too. Instead, he wrote Say Her Name, a novel ...more
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by Grove Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jordan Ferguson
Jun 30, 2011 Jordan Ferguson rated it it was ok
It’s a strange process, the zigs and zags that can make a reader pick up a book. Case in point: a recent story in The New Yorker name-checked a book called ‘The Art of Political Murder’ by Francisco Goldman. So I recognized the name when I spotted the book on one of the new release table in the store. The jacket description was the money shot for me.

‘Say Her Name,’ while classified as a novel and using literary techniques, tells the true story of Francisco Goldman’s courtship and marriage to the
Mar 07, 2011 Jill rated it it was amazing
Grief is, by and large, a private and intimate thing. We utter a few platitudes and then turn away in discomfort from who are laid bare by their grief. And emotionally, we begin to withdraw.

Francisco Goldman shatters those boundaries in his devastating book Say Her Name, forcing the reader to pay witness to the exquisite and blinding pain of a nearly unbearable loss. He positions the reader as a voyeur in a most intimate sadness, revealing the most basic nuances and details and the most complex
Mar 19, 2011 Cynthia rated it really liked it
Who am I now that you’re gone?

This is a book of grieving. An aging literary academic marries a much younger woman with literary ambitions of her own. They have a few wonderful years and then she tragically dies despite his efforts to save her. He blames himself and so does her mother. This is also a book of obsession. Both Frank, the husband, and Aura's mother pit themselves against one another as each live with their regrets and loss. Frank hangs on to her clothes and other possessions, he sees
Guillermo Jiménez
Creo que he ganado una nueva respuesta a la pregunta: ¿por qué lees?

Ahora podría responder: "Léete algo como 'Di su nombre' de Francisco Goldman, y te darás una idea muy cercana de por qué leemos".

Incluso podría responder la pregunta de por qué escribimos.

Proust se dio a la búsqueda del tiempo perdido y a ello dedicó su obra. Joyce se afanó en el lenguaje como personaje en una etapa final y en lograr un día. Un solo día.

Borges nos legó su Funes y su Menard y sus libros de arena interminables y s
Jun 18, 2011 Judith rated it it was ok
Like many other readers, I had previously read the news reports of the death of Francisco Goldman's wife in a tragic swimming accident and the subsequent pain of his mother-in-law's accusations against him. His wife was young and beautiful, and he was a successful author and they were deeply in love. They were just a month shy of their 2 year anniversary when they took a vacation together in Mexico and she sustained a fatal injury while body-surfing at a remote beach. The pain this man suffered ...more
Jun 14, 2012 Natalie rated it it was amazing
There is nothing that I could write that would do this man, this woman or this testimony justice.

What I can say is this:

This book quite literally broke my heart. The time it took me to read it saw me sink into a profound state of melancholy which was fuelled by its piercing, untouchable beauty, and the doom that encapsulated it.

I just finished it, and I lay in bef, tears streaming down my face, heart racing, stomach in the awe and horror it inspired.

Read this book. I urge y
Dec 24, 2013 Susan rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013-books-read
My first impression of this book was that it was magnificent. I could only read a tiny bit at a time because of the crushing weight of the loss that the author experienced after the untimely death of his wife. The book gets two stars for this part alone. The rest was crap.

After I got into the book a little more, I honestly started to dislike the wife and wonder why anyone would have mourned her loss. She married a man almost old enough to be her father (and, yes, she had daddy issues) and regula
Aug 18, 2012 Mark rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Conocí a Pancho mediante la entrevista de Puig. Al verlo titubeante, con un habla entrecortada y pocha, con una semisonrisa entre estúpida y dolida, recordé las emociones que me hizo vivir su novela, desde el goce por el amor vivido hasta el llanto clamoroso por la pérdida de Aura. No importa que tan buena escritora haya sido Aura, sino lo inmensamente que fue amada. Y esto lo lees y lo vives. Del hecho cotidiano con sus vaivenes rutinarios hasta la honda tragedia que significa que te pase algo, ...more
May 16, 2013 julieta rated it liked it
I had all kinds of feelings going through me while reading this book. At first I was kind of worried because I was having a hard time feeling sympathy for Goldman, and I thought it was terrible of me, he lived a terrible loss, and he felt the need to write about it. But I just could not completely understand his point of view in the whole story, he seemed like a very selfish person, and he seemed to have made himself the center of the world with that terrible story of his true love being lost. I ...more
Once, looking for comfort in my own blinding grief, I sought solace in the book "Grief" by C. S. Lewis. I simply couldn't find any books on the market that could reach the level of agony I was experiencing, nor could I find another human being who could relate to it. "Grief" failed to comfort me with it's intellectualizing the process of grief. Grief of losing my husband had left me crying out for understanding--for some relief from the pain. Grief is emotional and physical's not some ...more
Jan 08, 2012 Peter rated it it was amazing
Really, Goodreads, an average of 3.64 stars for this book? Have you no heart? Have you no compassion? But more importantly, have you no appreciation for a stirring technically-complex piece of writing? I apologize for lashing out at a nameless horde of readers and star-givers; I suppose that's an alienating way to begin a review. But I have this obnoxious quality that kicks in when I really admire a book. I just want to defend it against any possible attack! I want to pat it on the back and tell ...more
Mar 21, 2013 Eric rated it really liked it
Great art is so often (and perhaps so inevitably) born out of suffering and sorrow, and we look to artists to transmute such pain into something that affirms and consoles. Having lost a dear companion of my own recently, I appreciate Goldman's 340-page reminder that our response to loss is maybe first and foremost to eulogize, to narrativize, to preserve in words so as somehow to ward off the loss of detail and the weakening of memory. We want not only to keep our loved ones alive, but also some ...more
Jul 05, 2011 Diane rated it really liked it
Francisco Goldman fell in love with the much younger Aura, a graduate student from Mexico, studying literature at Columbia University. To his surprise, she agreed to marry him and they lived a very happy life. He recounts their short life together in his fictional memoir Say Her Name.

On vacation in Mexico, Aura has a surfing accident and dies. Goldman is devastated, and his pain is made more unbearable by his mother-in-law who blames him for her daughter's death, and vows that he will pay for wh
Oct 21, 2011 Jay rated it really liked it
Say Her Name
by Francisco Goldman

I heard about this title on Wisconsin Public Radio and was riveted by the author’s candid as well as incredibly heart-breaking account of his wife’s death in a bodysurfing accident.

In the first few chapters I went back and forth from feeling sorry for this man’s broken heart to thinking; geez buster, things happen, get on with it. Then I began to see the tapestry he so cleverly wove in order to try and understand how one’s destiny could possibly be anticipated.
May 11, 2012 Jean rated it it was ok
Although this book had rave reviews, I just can't make myself agree. The love between Francisco and Aura did improve their lives, however, the destructive, unproductive and narcissistic behavior the author exhibited after the tragedy made it very difficult to sympathize. I expected to have some revelation and uplifting spirit at the end: such as helping others in same or worse situations to enhance others and his own lives.

I wanted to hold my tongue when I got to the book club, but there was no
Doriana Bisegna
Sep 06, 2013 Doriana Bisegna rated it it was amazing
Let me start from the beginning! I came across a review of an unknown author (to me) by the name of Francisco Goldman who had written about his very short married life to Aura Estrada, who died bodysurfing on holiday in Mexico. The review was full of praise and all in all a very positive much so that it had me adding his book to my wish list! Fast forward a couple of years and I decide to purchase this book even though I find it to be quite long (350pg) for a four year marriage...wha ...more
Ruth Jalfon
Jun 04, 2012 Ruth Jalfon rated it it was ok
This is the true story of Francisco's courtship and then very brief 2 year marriage to a much younger mexican PhD literature student with aspirations to become a well-known writer, before she dies tragically in a sudden accident. I didn't realize it was a dead-spouse grief book and probably wouldn't have bought it if I'd investigated further. There were some touching moments but otherwise just on and on stories of their time together and how he is dealing or rather not dealing with it and other ...more
Jul 04, 2012 Jane rated it it was amazing
This book was as amazing as the reviewers claim. I wish it hadn't been quite so hyped. I like to discover something extraordinary like this book without anyone pointing me there, but of course, sometimes the pointing is the reason I actually seek out and read a book. It made me want to recreate the lives of my own lost loves, particularly my little sister Kathy. The grit of the author's relationship with Aura was a big part of my belief in the story. How do I say how the author seduced me? His u ...more
Jan 05, 2012 Tara rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully written novel that captures not only grief but the doubts, recriminations, and questions that follow a tragic, freak accident. The New York Times review mentions the respect the writer has for his wife's inner life and this indeed struck me. It seems that he loves her in a special way that only a fellow artist can, with interest in her writings, thoughts, and artistic inspiration. He even thinks to ask questions of her father and visit a psychiatric facility that fill out s ...more
Jul 25, 2015 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x-read-in-2015
The book cover says Say Her Name is "a soaring paean to a brilliant young woman", "passionate and moving", "incandescent", a "beautiful evocation of love and loss". I completely agree that it is a tribute to a very special love lost but I did not particularly enjoy reading this book. Maybe it takes a certain kind of person that I am not. One reviewer here said he especially enjoys "dead spouse books" but I can honestly say I've not yet read one that I enjoyed so take my review with that in mind. ...more
Sarah Pascarella
Elegy, love letter, howl, tribute, Francisco Goldman's "Say Her Name" resurrects Aura, the author's late wife, and makes the reader fall in love with her, too. Not content to keep the book as a paean to love and an honest examination of grief, though, Goldman also delves into responsibilities within a marriage and its extended relationships, the possibility of destiny, and the simultaneous cruelty and beauty of nature's indifference. At first, I was puzzled by Goldman's choice to publish this as ...more
Scott Freeman
Apr 03, 2011 Scott Freeman rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-books
Beautifully written but I found it to be maddeningly self-indulgent. It took 300 pages to get to the information I was really interested in. I still don't understand marketing this as a novel rather than a memoir.
Jan 15, 2013 Vicky rated it did not like it
I cannot explain how annoyed I was reading this book. Albeit a true story, it was pathetic.
Alexis Leon
Jul 19, 2011 Alexis Leon rated it really liked it
Here's what works about this "novel": Goldman tells you right off the bat that Aura is dead. There are no surprises there. What follows is not a building up to a shocking loss, nor a surprise twist ending where we lose a "character" we've grown very fond of. It's instead a witness to or an account of the slow unraveling of a man who has lost his purpose. Written in a beautiful style that I am loathe to call prose but which is no less lyrical, Goldman invites the reader into his grief and lets us ...more
Vivian Valvano
Oct 23, 2011 Vivian Valvano rated it liked it
This is Francisco Goldman's book of love and grief after the untimely death of his wife of only a few years after a devastating swimming accident. I actually give it 3.5 stars. It is quite good and totally heartbreaking. But I think his editors should have reined him in a bit so that the book would be tighter, shorter - I think that would make for an even more effective book. But what right do I have to even say this? This is a gift of love for his dead Aura and a way for Goldman to try to deal ...more
Book Concierge
Audio book narrated by Robert Fass

Goldman found the love of his life in a decades younger grad student (not his student) from Mexico. He gave his heart to the brilliant, witty, exuberant Aura, and they were looking forward to starting a family when she was tragically killed during a beach holiday. This unexpected tragedy affected Francisco and Aura’s mother in ways no one expected. Francisco was completely bereft and lost in his grief. Eventually he wrote this “novel” – a barely fictionali
Jun 02, 2012 Kyle rated it it was amazing
I remember not too long ago I gave a 5 star rating to Darin Strauss's Half A Life. I thought at the time that his memoir was a startling, honest look at grief and loss......I appreciated how he spoke of his personal tragedy, and how it helped lead him to where he is today.

Say Her Name is similar in that it is a BRUTALLY honest novel of one man's loss and writings of grief. I can not tell you how refreshing it was to read the pain, and I say that because when horrible things happen, society does
Jul 10, 2011 Tara rated it really liked it
To read this book is to fall in love...fall in love with the reason for it having been written, the quirky, elfin, raspy voiced young wife to whom, in some ways, this work is an unrequited love letter. It's not a spoiler to say that the lovely Aura dies. We as readers find that out on the very first page. What was unexpected was the sense of loss I felt as a reader, a witness to the story of Francisco and Aura. Their love seemed somewhat impossible, he being 22 years her senior and she a young, ...more
Aug 16, 2011 Paul rated it really liked it
Recommended to Paul by: EW Review
The author, Francisco Goldman, lost his wife and soul mate tragically at the age of 30. Francisco was much older and madly in love – maybe even somewhat obsessed. This book has been described by Colm Toibin as “A beautiful love story and an extraordinary story of loss.” It is that, but also more – and the “more” sometimes seems downright creepy. Everyone mourns differently, and for some the mourning period lasts longer than for others. But Goldman’s novel (yes, it is his story “novelized” – not ...more
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Francisco Goldman is an American novelist, journalist, and 'maestro', at Fundación Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano (FNPI), the journalism school for Latin-America created by Gabriel García Márquez. Goldman is also known as Francisco Goldman Molina, "Frank" and "Paco".

He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to a Guatemalan mother and Jewish-American father. His first novel, The Long Night of White Ch
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“Hold her tight, if you have her; hold her tight, I thought, that's my advice to all the living. Breathe her in, put your nose in her hair, breathe her in deeply. Say her name. It will always be her name. Not even death can steal it. Same alive as dead, always. Aura Estrada.” 15 likes
“You always felt destined for stardom of one kind or another. But the fear that maybe that wasn't true wouldn't leave you alone. That you were no more than the classes you'd taken, the schools you'd attended, the books you'd read, the languages you spoke, your scholarships, your master's thesis on Borges and the English writers, and so on, but nobody unique, with a talent only your own. You were desperate for something that was yours alone. I was yours alone, but that isn't what you meant.” 8 likes
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