A nonfiction novel by Myriam Gurba

Gurba grows up queer, Chicana, and take no prisoners. Her story is a revelation, a delight, and an eye-opener. 

November 2017

5.5 x 8.25 | 160 Pages
Trade Paper

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired.

To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at

All orders will ship in November.

ISBN: 987-1-56689-491-3.


Available on backorder


True crime, memoir, and ghost story, Mean is the bold and hilarious tale of Myriam Gurba’s coming of age as a queer, mixed-race Chicana. Blending radical formal fluidity and caustic humor, Gurba takes on sexual violence, small towns, and race, turning what might be tragic into piercing, revealing comedy. This is a confident, intoxicating, brassy book that takes the cost of sexual assault, racism, misogyny, and homophobia deadly seriously.


“[Gurba's] dark humor isn’t used for shock value alone, offering instead a striking image of deflection and coping in the face of real pain and terror…” —Publishers Weekly

“With its icy wit, edgy wedding of lyricism and prose, and unflinching look at personal and public demons, Gurba’s introspective memoir is brave and significant.” —Kirkus

“Mean will make you LOL and break your heart.” —The Millions

“Don’t let its slim profile fool you, this memoir bursts with vitality and humor (however mordant), all while dealing with issues of gender politics, sexual assault, PTSD, and Gurba’s experience growing up as a queer, mixed race Chicana in California in the ’80s.” —Nylon

“Not one to mince words, this Lambda Literary finalist [Myriam Gurba] nevertheless aims to entertain as she tackles racism, homophobia, and sexual violence in this amusing genre-defying celebration of strategic offensiveness.” —Logo

“[Gurba] breathes fire and Spanglish, batters you with her biting humor then buries you in truths you cannot look away from… This is how memoirs should always be written – with fierceness, brutal honesty and a wry smile cutting through it all.” Brightest Young Things

“Read Mean for its humor and stimulating structure. Read Gurba for her unique perspective and literary stylings.” —PANK

“Through wit and in-your-face brilliance, Gurba tells a story that is both deeply personal and bitingly critical of modern life. Along the way, she also gives us a masterclass in what intersectionality is all about.”“Through wit and in-your-face brilliance, Gurba tells a story that is both deeply personal and bitingly critical of modern life. Along the way, she also gives us a masterclass in what intersectionality is all about.” —Shondaland

“Mean tackles the most serious of topics—sexual assault, racism, homophobia—with a voice that revels in the grim humor of survival.” Catapult Community, “Staff Picks”

“I am such a gigantic fan of Myriam Gurba. Her voice is an alchemy of queer magic, feminist wildness, and intersectional explosion. She’s a gigantic inspiration to my work and the sexiest, smartest literary discovery in Los Angeles. She’s totally ready to wake up the world.” —Jill Soloway

“Casually frank and grimly funny, the stealth power of this book mesmerizes. Mean excavates one female’s personal history with America’s rape culture, zooming through suburbia, race, friendship, desire, education, family, pop culture—essentially taking on the world—with prose both controlled and popping with singular detail. There is no writer like Myriam Gurba, and Mean is perfection.” —Michelle Tea

“‘The post-traumatic mind has an advanced set of art skills,’ Myriam Gurba writes. Mean tackles the profane and the sacred by sticking one hand into your chest and grabbing hold of your heart muscle while the other hand tickle fights your brain, complete with serious noogies. Aligned with female saints and feminist artists and writers, Gurba vividly offers stories both familiar and unfamiliar in a heartbreaking and riotously funny collection that, like Gurba, is hybrid in its form. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book that covers the territories of class, racism, sexual assault, eating disorders, and more that made me LOL with its ferocious intellect and biting humor. There is just no other voice like hers, and Mean is a testament to that fact. I want Myriam Gurba to translate the world.” —Wendy Ortiz