The Aura Estrada Prize was organized to honor distinguished work by a promising young woman writing in Spanish and to celebrate the memory of Aura Estrada, a Mexico City writer who died suddenly on Mexico's Pacific Coast in July 2007, at the age of 30. The prize is the work of author Francisco Goldman, who was married to Aura, and their friends.
In September Goldman hosted a fundraiser for the prize in New York (which The New Yorker covered) and on November 25, 2008, a similar event was held here in Mexico City at the classy Zinco jazz club downtown. It was a memorable night. Friends of Aura and Francisco and prominent D.F. writers and artists gathered for dinner, drinks, and a fine performance by the Zinco house band with guests Seneca Black, Vincent Gardner, and singer Daline Jones. Several artists, including Yoshua Okon and Daniel Lezama, donated pieces for a silent auction. Selections of Aura's writing were read.
While it was a happy event, Aura's absence, the loss of her voice, was impossible to ignore. Yet what struck me most about the evening was listening to how truly remarkable a writer Aura had been in her life. Her tales are engrossing, animated, felt, elegiac, and they were read with a true sense of pleasure by Gabriela Jauregui, Margo Glantz, David Lida, Alvaro Enrigue, and Maria Aura. In his welcoming to the night, Goldman referred to himself as the "luckiest guy in the world" for having shared so much with Aura. His prize is a living memorial to that love and to the promise of Aura Estrada's talent.
* Francisco tells me about $140,000 of the $200,000 goal has been raised for the prize. The first award will be presented at the upcoming Oaxaca Book Fair. Goldman also says: "Almadia of Oaxaca will be publishing a book of Aura's writings, and in a forthcoming issue of Zoetrope, guest edited by Daniel Alarcón, on young Latin American fiction, Aura's story 'An Open Secret' will appear -- currently being translated por tu servidor."
** To learn how to donate or apply, and for other news, visit the website.