Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist takes place over the course of one day in 1999 during the WTO protests in Seattle. In this wonderful debut, Yapa manages to create tension and empathy, urgency and compassion. It is a book that feels alive and visceral, much like the heart, muscle, and fist in its title. Recommended By Shawn D., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The Flamethrowers meets Let the Great World Spin in this electrifying debut novel set amid the heated conflict of Seattle's 1999 WTO protests.
On a rainy, cold day in November, young Victor — a nomadic, scrappy teenager who's run away from home — sets out to sell as much marijuana as possible to the throng of WTO demonstrators determined to shut down the city. With the proceeds, he plans to buy a plane ticket and leave Seattle forever, but it quickly becomes clear that the history-making 50,000 anti-globalization protestors — from anarchists to environmentalists to teamsters — are testing the patience of the police, and what started out as a peaceful protest is threatening to erupt into violence.
Over the course of one life-altering afternoon, the fates of seven people will change forever: foremost among them police Chief Bishop, the estranged father Victor hasn't seen in three years, two protesters struggling to stay true to their non-violent principles as the day descends into chaos, two police officers in the street, and the coolly elegant financial minister from Sri Lanka whose life, as well as his country's fate, hinges on getting through the angry crowd, out of jail, and to his meeting with the President of the United States. When Chief Bishop reluctantly unleashes tear gas on the unsuspecting crowd, it seems his hopes for reconciliation with his son, as well as the future of his city, are in serious peril.
In this raw and breathtaking novel, Yapa marries a deep rage with a deep humanity. In doing so he casts an unflinching eye on the nature and limits of compassion, and the heartbreaking difference between what is right and what is possible.
"Yapa's writing is visceral and unsparing. Noteworthy, capital-I Important and a ripping read, his novel will be on many 'best' lists in 2016." Library Journal
"[A] gripping debut...Yapa is a skilled storyteller, revealing just enough about his characters and the direction of his plot to engage his readers, yet effectively building dramatic impact by withholding certain key details. In the style of Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin, Yapa ties together seemingly disparate characters and narratives through a charged moment in history, showing how it still affects us all in different ways." Booklist
"Chilling...A memorable, pulse-pounding literary experience." Publisher's Weekly
"A great wrenching beautiful book." Laline Paull, author of The Bees
"A vital, powerful read, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist is an absorbing, multi-faceted, acutely hopeful novel." Patrick deWitt, author of Undermajordomo Minor and The Sisters Brothers
"Sunil Yapa's debut novel is possibly the most gorgeous book I've read in my entire life... Yapa's pattern of meandering, artful, full-bodied imagery, punctuated by zingy one-liners makes for a seriously addictive read... It's painful. It's gorgeous. I can't say this enough: read it." Bustle Magazine
About the Author
Sunil Yapa holds a bachelor's degree in economic geography from Penn State University and an MFA from Hunter College. The biracial son of a Sri Lankan father and mother from Montana, Yapa has lived around the world, including time in Greece, Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, China, and India, as well as London, Montreal, and New York City.