Say Her Name

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 September, 2011, 12:00am


Say Her Name
by Francisco Goldman
Grove Atlantic (e-book)

Say Her Name is an odd beast. Inspired by the death of Francisco Goldman's wife, it's a novel that reads like a work of soul-searing autobiography. In 2005, Goldman married budding writer Aura Estrada. Nearly two years later 30-year-old Estrada is killed accidentally while swimming off Mexico. 'Aura's mother and uncle accused me of being responsible for her death,' Goldman notes with unblinking candour. The book is part mediation on mortality, part biography but mainly a love story. It opens with a vivid account of a holiday the couple took in Paris soon after they moved in together. Here and throughout the book, the reader is in the privileged but uncomfortable position of viewing a relationship in intimate detail, particularly when Goldman uses Estrada's diaries, poems and stories. Then there is the tension with Estrada's family and their suspicions of Goldman. Say Her Name is a moving and ambitious work of fiction. The repeated questions directed at Estrada herself ('Mi amor, is this really happening? ... Do you miss our domestic routines, mi amor?') create a rare intensity.