This fantastic novel bursts out of the blocks and doesn’t let go until you have finished. Sunil Yapa announces himself not just as a writer to watch but a writer to read right now. This is a powerful story, not just of protest, but finding your place in the world even after you discover what the world really is.
The backdrop to the novel is the World Trade Organization protests and subsequent riots in Seattle in 1999. The story follows a cast of characters over the course of a day; a homeless teenager, the chief of police, a Sri Lankan trade delegate, a protest organiser and two of the police on the frontlines. Each character’s story is entwined in a way with another and this changes throughout the day. Yapa keeps all these stories in perfect balance even as events spiral out of control, expertly capturing the mood and atmosphere of each vantage point he unfurls.
This is a coming of age novel not of a teen into adulthood (which is part of the story) but also adults into a new millennium and of nations into a new century. Yapa captures both the broken system but also the unrelenting tide of change that is hovering on the horizon. Change that is inevitable but not without a fight both from within the system as well as from without and how the lines between the two are not as clear as we think.
Sunil Yapa has written an incredible debut that will stop and make you think while you are swept along in the maelstrom and passion that is life.