I Heard Her Call My Name: A Memoir of Transition (Hardcover)

I Heard Her Call My Name: A Memoir of Transition By Lucy Sante Cover Image
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“Reading this book is a joy... much to say about the trans journey and will undoubtedly become a standard for those in need of guidance. ”
— The Washington Post


"Sante’s bold devotion to complexity and clarity makes this an exemplary memoir. It is a clarion call to live one’s most authentic life.”
The Boston Globe

“Not to be missed, I Heard Her Call My Name is a powerful example of self-reflection and a vibrant exploration of the modern dynamics of gender and identity.” — Lit Hub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2024

An iconic writer’s lapidary memoir of a life spent pursuing a dream of artistic truth while evading the truth of her own gender identity, until, finally, she turned to face who she really was


For a long time, Lucy Sante felt unsure of her place. Born in Belgium, the only child of conservative working-class Catholic parents who transplanted their little family to the United States, she felt at home only when she moved to New York City in the early 1970s and found her people among a band of fellow bohemians. Some would die young, to drugs and AIDS, and some would become jarringly famous. Sante flirted with both fates, on her way to building an estimable career as a writer. But she still felt like her life a performance. She was presenting a façade, even to herself.

Sante’s memoir braids together two threads of personal narrative: the arc of her life, and her recent step-by-step transition to a place of inner and outer alignment. Sante brings a loving irony to her account of her unsteady first steps; there was much she found she still needed to learn about being a woman after some sixty years cloaked in a man’s identity, in a man’s world. A marvel of grace and empathy, I Heard Her Call My Name parses with great sensitivity many issues that touch our lives deeply, of gender identity and far beyond.

About the Author


Lucy Sante is the author of Low Life, Evidence, The Factory of Facts, Kill All Your Darlings, Folk Photography, The Other Paris, Maybe the People Would Be the Times, and Nineteen Reservoirs. Her awards include a Whiting Writers Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Grammy Award (for album notes), an Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, and Guggenheim and Cullman Center fellowships. She recently retired after twenty-four years teaching at Bard College.

Praise For…


“Beautiful . . . A profound narrative of self-realization written with curiosity and bracing clarity, I Heard Her Call My Name is a work that both new and established readers of Sante will treasure.” —Nicole Chung, Esquire’s The Best Memoirs of 2024 (So Far)

“Reading this book is a joy. Sante is funny and warm . . . I Heard Her Call My Name has much to say about the trans journey and will undoubtedly become a standard for those in need of guidance. But the book speaks to a wider audience, too: for anyone who needs to break out of their self-imposed ‘prison of denial,’ as Sante puts it, or to stop punishing themselves for wanting what they want.” —The Washington Post
 
“A timely but timeless memoir . . . At its heart, I Heard Her Call My Name is a poignant but forceful portrait of a life liberated from shame and fear . . . Emblematic of someone who has straddled cultures, languages, and genders, Sante’s bold devotion to complexity and clarity makes this an exemplary memoir. It is a clarion call to live one’s most authentic life.” —The Boston Globe
 
“Extraordinary . . . [Sante’s] writing remains as perceptive, elegant, and striking as ever, and furthermore it is fearlessly honest—a quality that often seems almost as rare as Sante-style bohemians . . . There has always been much truth in her work, flourishing like those renegade artists in the squalor of 1970s New York. And now there is even more.” —Slate

“This affirming memoir of late-in-life transition examines the writer’s gender-identity realization and her place in society. A gorgeous, essential read.” —People

“Arresting . . . it’s impossible not to be moved and fascinated by Sante’s exhilarating if painful journey.” —Los Angeles Times
 
“Deeply moving, often surprisingly hilarious . . . [Sante is] an exceptional prosaist . . . One of the memoir’s most poignant aspects is the way that Sante compares and contrasts her gender transition with the sort of transitioning she had to do “as an immigrant child becoming acculturated in the United States.” —Air Mail

“[Sante’s] memoir is moving for many reasons, but primarily for its observations about aging and vanity, as seen through the separated colors of a prismatic lens . . . Powerful.”The New York Times Book Review

“Miraculous . . . With piercing insight and a formidable command of language, Sante molds the material into a trenchant self-portrait that’s equal parts humorous (she wryly gives her coming-out email the subject line ‘A Bombshell’) and hard-nosed. This is a major achievement.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Disarmingly frank . . . In part an epistolary memoir that captures a fervid love affair with oneself . . . [I Heard Her Call My Name] also treats its material with the retrospective zeal and precision of a detective . . . Reminiscent of the Didion of The Year of Magical Thinking, examining from the outside the workings of her own mind in extremis . . . What feels most poignant is the clear continuity with Sante’s earlier work.” The New Republic

“Not to be missed, I Heard Her Call My Name is a powerful example of self-reflection and a vibrant exploration of the modern dynamics of gender and identity.” Lit Hub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2024

“A sustained and joyful exhale.”4Columns

“An absorbing analysis of a long-standing search for identity in writing and life.” Kirkus

“Poignant, arresting, and ultimately affirming.” Booklist

“An astonishing, once-in-a-lifetime achievement, as two stories thread into one, from losing yourself in the lights, the sounds, the eyes of others, to the miraculous discovery of the language with which you can put yourself back together.” —Hua Hsu, author of Stay True

“Radical, humble, and wise, Sante’s account of discovery is the most generous of gifts—a book to treasure, and a memoir that will enter the canon of twenty-first-century greats.” —Hermione Hoby, author of Virtue

“I've admired the utter clarity and authority of Lucy Sante's work for years, and I was deeply moved by how she tunneled through the specificity of her experiences to create this vivid, encompassing, and compassionate book.” —Catherine Lacey, author of Biography of X

“I Heard Her Call My Name is a generous, fearlessly revealing book, full of heart. Lucy Sante brings a reader through her transition, a story that moves across continents, time, and discovery. It is revitalizing. Sante’s dedication to truth asks beautifully honest questions: Who deserves to be a woman? What do we contain? What is it to live, survive, to thrive? This celebration of womanhood is fresh air you will want to breathe in deeply.” —Samantha Hunt, author of The Unwritten Book and The Seas
Product Details
ISBN: 9780593493762
ISBN-10: 0593493761
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: February 13th, 2024
Pages: 240
Language: English