Something Fierce | Granta

  • Published: 02/08/2012
  • ISBN: 9781846272028
  • 129x20mm
  • 288 pages

Something Fierce

Carmen Aguirre

One minute, 11-year-old Carmen is watching her hippy mum put curlers in for the first time, the next she is being dragged with her sister through LA airport with her mother muttering about ‘the patriarchy’ under her breath. The three of them board a plane that takes them to Peru, next door to the Chile from which the family had fled after Pinochet’s coup. Eight days after landing in Lima, and still perplexed by their mother’s disguises and lies, they’re off again, on a bus bound they know not where. They are then to spend most of the next decade, the 1980s, moving from dictatorship to dictatorship, evading capture, torture and peril at every turn. It is no way to spend your teenage years, until, overnight, it becomes the way Carmen herself chooses.

Something Fierce is raw, courageously honest and funny; an insightful journey into the formation of a revolutionary soul.

Francisca Zentilli, Globe & Mail

The conflict between her rootless existence, the constant sense of danger and wanting to be a typical teenager sent Aguirre into a spiral of neuroses. The push against Pinochet ultimately failed, but Aguirre's tone is far from defeatist in this dryly humorous, tautly narrated and inspiring memoir.


A moving, heart-racing journey through the political landscape of South America during the 1970s and 1980s... an inspiration to anyone who strives to live a life of purpose and passion.

Camilla Gibb

The Author

Carmen Aguirre was taken, aged 11, from her comfortable Canadian exile, by her mother, to Chile, then Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, spending the next 6 years in the safe houses her mother and stepfather ran. At 18, she joined a guerrilla organization in Pinochet’s Chile. Today she again lives in Canada, where she is a celebrated playwright and actress – she was in Quinceanera, a Sundance winner. Her first book, Something Fierce, was published by Portobello Books in 2012. Its follow-up, Mexican Hooker #1, will be published in April 2016.

More about the author →

From the Same Author

Mexican Hooker #1

Carmen Aguirre

At six years old Carmen Aguirre was a Chilean refugee adjusting to life in North America. At eighteen she was a revolutionary dissident married to a man she couldn’t fully love. In her twenties she fought to find herself as an actress and break away from the stereotypes thrust upon her – housekeeper, hotel maid, Mexican Hooker #1.

But alongside these many identities was another that was hard to embrace and impossible to escape: that of the thirteen-year-old girl attacked by one of Canada’s most feared rapists. Thirty-three years after the assault, Carmen decided it was time to meet the man who changed her life.