Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist – Sunil Yapa


This is a brilliant book.  I loved it.  It blew me away in a way I didn’t expect.  I didn’t expect it to pull so strongly on my emotions.
The book is set in Seattle in 1999 and spans one day.  The city is getting ready for one of the biggest protests in the history of western democracy, against the World Trade Organisation meeting being held there.  The Police are ready for the protesters; the protesters are ready to do what they do. A delegate is desperately trying to get to an important meeting at the WTO talks but his way is blocked by Police and protesters.
The story revolves around a father (who happens to be the Police Chief) and his estranged son, two of the police officers involved, two of the protesters and the delegate from Sri Lanka.

It all starts fairly slowly, introducing us to the characters.  However the tension is cleverly built up as the story proceeds.  I could almost physically feel the build up of frustration, fear, anger, rage and desperation in the characters.  You can sense the tensions bubbling up and the situation ready to explode into violence.  I got a feeling the day was not going to end well although there was still a glimmer of hope that some of the problems might yet be resolved.
The story of the day’s events reaches a climax but in the final chapters we also get a glimpse of how each of the main characters is affected by the events of the day
The story is told from the perspective of the various characters as it happens and also in flashback to previous times.  I quite like this format as I think, at least in this story, it gives us a better insight into the individual characters.
It is also a story about how decisions and incidents (big and small) taking place during one day can have a huge effect on lives.  For me the story made me think about some of the issues raised in the book.
Sunil Yapa has written a wonderful debut novel.  It’s a very powerful but very readable book.

The the Kindle edition of this book will be available from 14 January 2016 and the hardcover edition is due to be published on 4 February 2016 by Little, Brown Book Group (UK).

[I read a review copy of this book via NetGalley].

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Filed under 1999,, Seattle, Sri Lanka, Sunil Yapa, third world, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist

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