Lucy Sante in conversation with Cintra Wilson
I Heard Her Call My Name: A Memoir of Transition
Published by Penguin Press
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.
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.
Cintra Wilson is an author, former New York Times journalist, performer and painter. Her weekly Substack can be found at cintra.substack.com.
“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
This event made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation