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YOUR HEART IS A MUSCLE THE SIZE OF A FIST

by Sunil Yapa

The Flamethrowers meets Let the Great World Spin in this debut novel set amid the heated conflict of Seattle's 1999 WTO protests.

On a rainy, cold day in November, young Victor—a boyish, scrappy world traveler who's run away from home—sets out to sell marijuana to the 50,000 anti-globalization protestors gathered in the streets. It quickly becomes clear that the throng determined to shut the city down—from environmentalists to teamsters to anarchists—are testing the patience of the police, and what started as a peaceful protest is threatening to erupt into violence.

Over the course of one life-altering afternoon, the lives of seven people will change forever: foremost among them police chief Bishop, the estranged father Victor hasn't seen in three years, two protestors 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.

In this raw and breathtaking novel, Yapa marries a deep rage with a deep humanity, and in doing so casts an unflinching eye on the nature and limits of compassion.

Publishing Date: January 12, 2016


Sunil YapaSunil 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.

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PRAISE

"A symphony of a novel. Sunil Yapa inhabits the skins of characters vastly different to himself: a riot cop in Seattle, a punk activist, a disillusioned world traveler and a high-level diplomat, among others. Through it all Yapa showcases a raw and rare talent. This is a protest novel which finds, at its core, a deep and abiding regard for the music of what happens. In the contemporary tradition of Aleksandar Hemon and Phillipp Meyer, with echoes of Michael Ondaatje and Arundhati Roy, Yapa strives forward with a literary molotov cocktail to light up the dark." —Colum McCann, author of the National Book Award winner Let the Great World Spin

"YOUR HEART IS A MUSCLE THE SIZE OF A FIST is visceral, horrifying, and often heroic. But above all, this book is a full-throated chorus of voices on all sides—protestors, cops, delegates, politicians, and ramblers—as democracy runs headlong into the machinery of global power. Sunil Yapa has achieved something special, a story that is as tragic as it is relevant, as unflinching as it is humane." —Smith Henderson, author of Fourth of July Creek

"YOUR HEART IS A MUSCLE THE SIZE OF A FIST is a stunningly orchestrated, symphonic work of narrative power. This novel marshals all the vital forces of our existence—from the domestic to the political—and offers them to the reader with equal doses of compassion and beauty." —Dinaw Mengestu, author of All Our Names

"There is nothing to say about Sunil Yapa's debut novel that its wonderful title doesn't already promise—its heart beats and bleeds on every page, in prose so raw it feels built of muscle and tissue and sinew and sweat. This book is delightfully, forcefully alive, and I feel more alive for having read it." —Eleanor Henderson, author of Ten Thousand Saints

"An open-armed love letter to humanity, this glorious novel loops around a burning center encompassing the warmth of parents and the coolness of patriarchy. YOUR HEART IS A MUSCLE THE SIZE OF A FIST will compel you to look and then to witness. 'We are mad with hope' the narrator says early on, and by the end the reader is too." —Tiphanie Yanique, author of Land of Love and Drowning

"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

"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