Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist

Featuring Raphael Bostic, Matt Gainer, William G. Resh, and Danielle Williams

Sunil Yapa’s debut novel, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, returns us to 1999 during the WTO protests in Seattle. Taking on multiple perspectives during the first day of the meeting/protests, Yapa brings us stories that get to the nature of power versus empathy in democracy, in civil society. He said in an interview with Bethanne Patrick, “Empathy is a profound act of imagination and human connection. In fiction, we imagine ourselves into other people’s experiences. Of course, another word for that is ‘reading.'”

This fascinating book imagines what it means to be empathetic within the institutional violence of our system and the violence humans can commit against each other. Listen to our discussion about power and the necessity of protest within our democratic structure, and how protests should, and can, peacefully engage to solve the world’s “wicked problems.”

To listen to the Bedrosian Book Club Podcast discussion of Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist click the orange arrow in the Soundcloud player at the top of this post. Or you can download it and subscribe through Soundcloud or iTunes!

Next Month …

Evicted - cover imageRead Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond along with us, and listen to our discussion on March 28, 2016.

This highly anticipated (and star reviewed) work is a study of eight families facing eviction in Milwaukee. “Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.”

We’ll be bringing back the same guests from our discussion of The Great Inversion, for a look at what perhaps is the cost of demographic shifts in an inherently unequal society.

Links to things we talk about:

Confirmation bias
Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies
Antonio Gramsci
Day Without Immigrants, protests 2006
Occupy Wall Street
AP: Global supermarkets selling shrimp peeled by slaves

Ghandi was the man that freed a nation, but it was Nehru–a man of compromise–that built it. It was Ghandi who freed a people; but it was Nehru–a politician–who gave them jobs.
Sunil Yapa, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, pg 230

What I Saw at the Revolution, by Peggy Noonan – podcast discussion of the book
Enforcing Order, by Didier Fassin – podcast discussion of the book

Yes, violence was a genie in a bottle, even state-sanctioned, legal violence, because she knew the primal law, the lead-lined equation which was the foundation of all that happened on the street: if you want to carry a gun, you better be prepared to pull a gun; and if you pull a gun, you had better be prepared in heart, body, soul, and mind to fire a gun. To kill. Why else carry the freaking thing unless you were prepared for that: An empty threat was worse than none at all. And an officer unprepared or unwilling to kill: just another waking target, another boob in blue and black.
Sunil Yapa, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, pg 112

USC Provost, Michael C. Quick, on “wicked problems”


Further reading:

The Dark Side of Globalization: Why Seattle’s 1999 Protesters Were Right
World Trade Organization Protests in Seattle – CityArchives
Real battle for Seattle
Crafting an International Legal Regime for Worker Rights: Assessing the Literature since the 1999 Seattle WTO Protests
Whole Foods Says It Will Stop Selling Foods Made With Prison Labor
This Changes Everything
The Leap Manifesto




This podcast was produced by Aubrey Hicks and Jonathan Schwartz, recorded and mixed by Corey Hedden.