Myriam Gurba is a writer and artist. She is the author of the true-crime memoir Mean, a New York Times editors’ choice. O, the Oprah Magazine, ranked Mean as one of the best LGBTQ books of all time. Publishers’ Weekly describes Gurba as having a voice like no other. Her essays and criticism have appeared in the Paris Review, TIME.com, and 4Columns. She has shown art in galleries, museums, and community centers. She lives in Long Beach, California, with herself.
Myriam Gurba’s Mean is “a scalding memoir that comes with a full accounting of the costs of survival, of being haunted by those you could not save and learning to live with their ghosts.” It also “adds a necessary dimension to the discussion of the interplay of race, class and sexuality in sexual violence.” – NYTimes
“Like most truly great books, Mean made me laugh, cry and think. Myriam Gurba’s’s a scorchingly good writer.” – Cheryl Strayd, NYTimes
Queer poet and writer Myriam Gurba took the literary world by storm when her memoir Mean came out last fall. Startlingly funny, irreverent, and at times deeply philosophical, the memoir is part love letter to California and part queer Latina coming-of-age story, moving from Gurba’s childhood growing up in Southern California through her young adulthood in Berkeley. But along with her humorous anecdotes, the memoir also deals with the story of her sexual assault in college, at the hands of a man who murdered another of his victims after he assaulted Gurba. Mean turns a bright spotlight on the sexual violence that women endure and what it means to live life after trauma.
“Quite a bit of the violence against women that I write about in Mean isn’t necessarily violence that I have seen addressed by the Me Too movement.” them magazine
Gurba’s memoir Mean isn’t a coming-of-age story about discovering an authentic self. Rather, it’s a hybrid text that blends humor, true crime, poetry, and art criticism to enact how identity is apparitional. It is created and destroyed in thousands of violent and daily collisions between one’s own sense of self and the outside forces of educators, rapists, bullies, and racists. Identity is slippery and contingent, and its flickering nature allows for resistance and creativity. Gurba writes, “I didn’t know Mexicans were Mexicans, a category some mistake for subhuman . . . Today I understand that words are for everyjuan, but that not everyjuan is for every word.” In her humorous portmanteaus, Gurba claims and mobilizes language, making it playful and rebellious. The Iowa Review
Mean somehow manages to be a hilarious book about sexual assault, trauma, and hauntedness. Gurba is a mean, queer Chicana growing up in a mostly-white town in California. Mean is her coming-of-age story, and covers everything from the disappointment of white people food to the joys of skipping school. Further, her joyous reclamation of meanness, of bitchiness, her insistence on it as her holy mission is delightful. A mishmash of wildly diverging references, from Michael Jackson to Walter Benjamin, Cindi Lauper to girl saints, Gurba’s book is an utterly unique exploration of girlhood, trauma, and growing up. Remezcla