A finalist for the 2017 PEN/Faulkner award, Sunil Yapa’s debut novel Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick, and an Indies Next Pick, and was named one of the best books of 2016 by Amazon, Time Magazine, The Washington Post, Bustle, and others.
Set during one day of the 1999 Seattle WTO protests, the novel was described as “fast-paced and unflinching” by The New Yorker, “a genuine tour-de-force” by The Seattle Times, “generation-defining” by The Toronto Star, and garnered comparisons to Jonathan Franzen, Don DeLillo, and Tolstoy.
Yapa’s fiction and non-fiction have appeared in American Short Fiction, Guernica, O Magazine, Poets & Writers, The Margins, Hyphen, Slice, LitHub and others. He currently divides his time between New York City and Montreal, and teaches in the low-residency MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe.
An accomplished speaker, Yapa has appeared on public radio and national television, including NPR’s Morning Edition, public radio in San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and Australia; in 2016 he was a guest on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers. He also spoken about his novel, and its themes of protest, empathy, and hope all over the world, including Hong Kong, South Africa, Australia, and more than 100 events in the US.
The biracial son of a Sri Lankan father and a mother from Montana, Yapa has lived around the world, including The Netherlands, Thailand, Greece, Guatemala, Argentina, Chile, China, and India, as well as, London, Montreal, and New York City.
Yapa holds a BA in economic geography from Penn State University, and received his MFA in Fiction from Hunter College in New York City in 2010, where he worked with two-time Booker Prize winning author Peter Carey, and the 2009 National Book Award winner (Let the Great World Spin) Colum McCann. While at Hunter Sunil was also awarded the Alumni Scholarship & Welfare Fund Fellowship, which is given to one fiction student every three years, and was twice selected as a Hertog Fellow, working as a research assistant for Zadie Smith (Changing My Mind), as well as Ben Marcus (The Flame Alphabet).
He is the recipient of the 2010 Asian American Short Story Award, sponsored by Hyphen Magazine and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop in New York, and has received scholarships to The New York State Summer Writers’ Institute, The Norman Mailer Writers’ Center in Provincetown and The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
Author photo by Franco Vogt.