on January 12th 2016
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In late November 1999, thousands of demonstrators gather to protest rising globalization at the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle. Among them, a young traveler named Victor hopes to make money selling marijuana to the protesters and finds himself caught up in the wave of demonstration. Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist tells the story of that single afternoon through the eyes of seven different people, including Victor’s estranged father, two police officers working to control the crowds, and a Sri Lankan government official determined to meet with other world leaders.
Chapter-by-chapter multiple perspectives can be a tricky thing, particularly when authors continue to use the technique in unnecessary, even detrimental, ways. Yapa, however, uses his chapters as cameras, allowing the story to circle around a singular event through multiple lenses. The narratives often overlap at crucial points and challenge readers to examine the motives behind seemingly clear decisions.
“A week, a day, an hour—these were units of time no longer within Victor’s ability to contemplate or feel. The day had shrunk to a morning. Then an hour of street battle. Then fifteen minutes of withering brutality.
Noon was like a foreign country.”
Though some of the characters feel a bit muddled—particularly compared to Victor’s vibrancy—Yapa’s gorgeous prose more than makes up for the novel’s slight hiccups. Both intense and eye-opening, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist is a fantastic first novel from Sunil Yapa and an incredible start for Little, Brown’s new imprint, Lee Boudreaux Books.