The review on the cover of Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist says, “This book is a literary molotov cocktail.” I finished it last week, and can’t think about it without crying, still. It’s beautiful and terrible and exquisitely heart-rending. And this story is so important for what is happening this year in our streets.
It covers the 1995 Seattle protests of the WTO, blending fact with fiction in perspective-shifting storytelling that chugs persistently along, gathering speed in a way I didn’t even notice until the roaring crescendo began to quietly slice me apart. Fifty thousand peaceful protesters, singing, chanting, singing, and sitting in. A few dozen anarchists hell-bent on enacting their own agenda of destruction. A police force, described as grossly underprepared and emotionally overwhelmed—but there is more, underneath. And then, as they often do now, headlines with their own agenda: “Violent Protesters Clash with Police.”
I take issue with stories that oversimplify the “good guys” and the “bad guys.” We contain multitudes—whole worlds inside us all—and I’m not sure I’ve read a story that illustrates this more beautifully. I was angry at everyone. I hurt for everyone. I had to close the book once, sick at the idea of what human beings can become in the name of “right” and “wrong.” Nobody won. Everybody lost. It didn’t have to be like that, and we still don’t have a model for how else it could have gone.
Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist ripped me open from the inside out, and I won’t stop talking about it until you’ve read it too. It will stay with you. It needs to.
[Image: Me, sitting cross-legged in the floor, dressed like the book cover of Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist, by Sunil Yapa. I have read four books in the last month, and every single one was a 10/10. Stay tuned.]
Follow me on Instagram @melissau.