Myriam Gurba

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Myriam Gurba
Occupation(s)Artist and writer

Myriam Gurba is a Mexican American writer, story-teller, and visual artist. She is best known for her review, in Tropics of Meta, of American Dirt.

In 2019, O, The Oprah Magazine called Gurba's work Mean (2017) one of the "Best LGBTQ Books of All Time".


Gurba toured with Sister Spit, a "lesbian-feminist spoken-word and performance art collective."[1]

Gurba exhibited at the Museum of Latin American Art[2] and The Center Long Beach.[3]


Gurba is the author of three books: Mean (Coffee House Press, 2017)[4][5] and Dahlia Season: Stories and a Novella (Manic D Press/Future Tense, 2007),[6][7] and Painting Their Portraits in Winter: Stories.[8] Her second book, Painting Their Portraits in Winter: Stories, explores Mexican stories and traditions from a feminist lens.[9]

Gurba's work has been anthologized in ColorLines,[10] Les Figues Press, Zocalo Public Square, The Wanderer, figment and XQsi Magazine.[citation needed]

Gurba's review of the book American Dirt in Tropics of Meta sparked controversy about cultural appropriation, the white gaze, racism, #ownvoices, and lack of diversity in the publishing industry.[11][12][13][14] The review for Tropics of Meta was written after a previous review, commissioned by Ms. Magazine, was rejected for being too negative. Gurba's review, along with the hashtag #DignidadLiteraria, went viral in early 2020.

Since 2017, she and fellow author MariNaomi have been hosting an advice podcast called AskBiGrlz Archived 2021-11-26 at the Wayback Machine where they answer listener questions.[15]


Gurba's debut novel Dahlia Season[16] won The Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction from Publishing Triangle, and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award.[17][18] Dazed ranked Dahlia Season among their list of queer lit classics.[19] Emily Gould described Gurba as "a new writer for the first time whose voice is different from any you’ve heard before and who you want to keep hearing forever."[20]


In 2019, O, The Oprah Magazine called Gurba's work Mean (2017) one of the "Best LGBTQ Books of All Time".[4] The New York Times described Gurba as having a "distinct and infectious" voice.[21]

The New York Times' Meghan Daum calls Mean one of the five best memoirs of 2017, writing "Gurba has a voice as distinct and infectious as any I’ve discovered in recent years. “Mean” contains the usual childhood confusions and adolescent humiliations, but it’s also a meditation on race, class, sexuality and the limits of niceness."[22]

New York Times' Parul Sehgal calls Mean “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."[23]

Reviews of Gurba's work appear The Iowan Review,[24] The Paris Review,[25] The Lesbrary,[26] Rain Taxi,[27] BIG OTHER[28] and Wing Chair Books.[29] Jill Soloway blurbs for Mean, describing Gurba's voice as, "an alchemy of queer magic feminist wildness, and intersectional explosion."[30] Michelle Tea reviews Mean as a book that mesmerizes with prose, stating that, "there is no other writer like Myriam Gurba and Mean is perfection."[30]

Articles about her appears in KQED,[31] The Edge LB[32] and Confessions of a Boy Toy.[33]

Interviews with her appear in The Los Angeles Review of Books,[34] OC Weekly,[35] MOLAA,[36] The Normal School,[37] Weird Sister[38] and Otherppl.[39] Playlists for Gurba's writing appear in Largehearted Boy.[40][41]

Personal life[edit]

Gurba is from Santa Maria, California, US. She identifies as queer[42] and as of 2016 lived in Long Beach, California.[31]


  1. ^ "Long Beach authors to share their humor, discomfort at Sister Spit tour". 2 April 2015. Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  2. ^ Morris, Asia. "Local Artists Explore Identity and Diversity in WHO ARE YOU, MOLAA's First Exhibit of 2016". Long Beach Post. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  3. ^ "Opening Reception Featuring Myriam Gurba and Denise Rivas The Center Long Beach". The Center Long Beach. Archived from the original on 2020-09-09. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  4. ^ a b Hart, Michelle (2019-06-04). "50 Queer Authors Share Their All-Time Favorite LGBTQ Books". Oprah Magazine. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  5. ^ Gurba, Myriam (Nov 7, 2017). Mean. Coffee House Press. ISBN 978-1-56689-491-3. Archived from the original on September 9, 2020. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  6. ^ Gurba, Myriam (May 1, 2007). Dahlia Season: stories & a novella. Future Tense. ISBN 978-1933149165. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  7. ^ "Dahlia Season eBook by Myriam Gurba". Kobo. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  8. ^ "2015 Latino Books: 8 Must-Reads from Indispensable Small Presses". NBC News. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  9. ^ "2015 Latino Books: 8 Must-Reads from Indispensable Small Presses". NBC News. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  10. ^ Rao, Sameer (17 March 2016). "READ This Exhilarating History of L.A.'s Super-Badass 'Ovarian Psychos' Bicycle Brigade". ColorLines. race forward. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  11. ^ "'American Dirt' is a novel about Mexicans by a writer who isn't". Retrieved 2020-01-22.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ Hampton, Rachelle (2020-01-21). "Why Everyone's Angry About American Dirt". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2020-01-23.
  13. ^ Shephard, Alex (2020-01-22). "How Not to Write a Book Review". The New Republic. ISSN 0028-6583. Retrieved 2020-01-23.
  14. ^ "Pendeja, You Ain't Steinbeck: My Bronca with Fake-Ass Social Justice Literature". Tropics of Meta. 2019-12-12. Retrieved 2020-09-09.
  15. ^ Gurba, Myriam; MariNaomi. "AskBiGrlz". AskBiGrlz. Archived from the original on 2021-05-13. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  16. ^ Gurba, Myriam (2007). Dahlia Season: Stories & a Novella - Myriam Gurba. ISBN 9781933149165. Retrieved 2016-12-09 – via Internet Archive.
  17. ^ "Publishing Triangle". Archived from the original on 2019-03-23. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  18. ^ "20th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. Archived from the original on 2017-07-31. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  19. ^ Dazed (14 October 2014). "Come out with the best characters in queer lit". Dazed. Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  20. ^ "The Millions : A Year in Reading: Emily Gould". 3 December 2014. Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  21. ^ Daum, Meghan (2017-12-22). "In Search of Lost Time". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  22. ^ Daum, Meghan (2017-12-22). "In Search of Lost Time". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-02-05.
  23. ^ Sehgal, Parul (2017-12-19). "An Account of Surviving Assault Mixes Horror and Humor". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-08-01.
  24. ^ "Myriam Gurba's MEAN | The Iowa Review". Archived from the original on 2020-09-09. Retrieved 2019-08-01.
  25. ^ Review, The Paris (2017-09-15). "Staff Picks: Morphine, Martyrs, Microphones". The Paris Review. Retrieved 2019-08-01.
  26. ^ Ellis, Danika. "Danika reviews Painting Their Portraits in Winter by Myriam Gurba". The Lesbrary. The Lesbrary. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  27. ^ Attaway, Jacklyn (27 November 2013). "DAHLIA SEASON". Rain Taxi. Rain Taxi. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  28. ^ Gaudry, Molly (3 April 2011). "Sentences and Fragments: Prathna Lor's VENTRILOQUISIM and Myriam Gurba's WISH YOU WERE ME". BIG OTHER. BIG OTHER. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  29. ^ Filippone, Michael. "Wish You Were Me by Myriam Gurba". Wing Chair Books. Michael Filippone. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  30. ^ a b "Mean – Emily Books". Retrieved 2020-01-23.
  31. ^ a b Clark, Leilani. "For Mexican Girls Who Paint Their Fingernails Black". KQED Arts. KQED. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  32. ^ Rasmussen, Emily. "What's The Deal With Frida Kahlo's Cult Following?". The Edge LB. The Edge: The Independent Voice of Long Beach. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  33. ^ Darling, Nikki. "Myriam Gurba: Required Reading for Mexican Girls Who Paint their Fingernails Black". Confessions of a Boy Toy. Confessions of a Boy Toy. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  34. ^ "LARB Radio Hour: Queer Memoir Part Two: Feeling Mean with Myriam Gurba". Los Angeles Review of Books. 19 January 2018. Archived from the original on 2020-09-09. Retrieved 2019-08-01.
  35. ^ Nericcio, William. "Author-Artist Myriam Gurba is a Bettie Page-Susan Sontag Hybrid". OC Weekly. OC Weekly. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  36. ^ "Who Are You? Artist: Myriam Gurba". MOLAA. Retrieved 2016-12-09.[permanent dead link]
  37. ^ Quintana, Monique. "A Normal Interview with Myriam Gurba". The Normal School. The Normal School. Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  38. ^ Abelkop, Gina (14 March 2016). "It's Kinda Creepy Because I Am: An Interview with Myriam Gurba". Weird Sister. Weird Sister. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  39. ^ Listi, Brad. "Otherppl with Brad Listi: Episode 388 - Myriam Gurba". Otherppl. Brad Listi. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  40. ^ Gurba, Myriam. "Largehearted Boy: Book Notes - Myriam Gurba "Painting their Portraits in Winter"". Largehearted Boy. Largehearted Boy. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  41. ^ Gurba, Myriam. "Largehearted Boy: Book Notes - Myriam Gurba ("Wish You Were Me")". Largehearted Boy. Largehearted Boy. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  42. ^ Soto, Christopher (9 May 2015). "'Neplantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color: Issue Two Representatives". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 2016-12-09.

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