Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist (Yapa) - Author Bio

Author Bio
Birth—ca. 1980 ?
Raised—State College, Pennsylvania, USA
Education—B.A., Pennsylvania State University; M.F.A., Hunter College
Awards—Hyphen Asian American Short Story Contest
Currently—lives in Woodstock, New York

Sunil Yapa is a Sri Lankan-American fiction writer and novelist. His debut novel Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist was published in 2016.

Yapa's father, originally from Sri Lanka, is a retired professor of Geography at Penn State University. His mother is an American from Montana. Most of Yapa's youth was spent in State College, the home of Penn State. He graduated from the university in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economic Geography (where he won the 2002 E.W. Miller Award for excellence in writing in the discipline). For the next several years, he attempted to follow his father's path in becoming an academic geographer, but eventually he heeded his own desire, which had always been to write fiction.

In 2008 he entered Hunter College in New York City and in 2010 earned his Master's in Fine Arts. At Hunter he studied with two-time Booker Prize winning novelist Peter Carey, Nathan Englander, Claire Messud and 2009 National Book Award winner Colum McCann.

During his MFA studies, Yapa received the Alumni Scholarship & Welfare Fund Fellowship in 2008-2010—a grant given only to one MFA fiction student once every three years. He was also selected—twice—as a Hertog Fellow, working as a research fellow and research assistant to novelist Ben Marcus and then Zadie Smith.

Yapa also received scholarships to numerous writing programs, including the Norman Mailer Writers' Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, among others.

From Fall 2009 to Spring 2010, he was a Fiction Intern for Esquire magazine.

Short Stories
Yapa won the 2010 Hyphen Asian American Short Story Contest for his short story, "Pilgrims (What is Lost and You Cannot Regain)." The story was published in the Fall 2010 issue of Hyphen, Issue No. 21.

Another short fiction piece appeared in Pindeldyboz: Stories that Defy Classification—"A Short Incident Involving a Boy, a Girl, Pigeons, and an Old Man with Advice."

Yapa's 2016 debut novel, Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, was widely reviewed and praised. An excerpt from the novel won second prize (and first prize in fiction) in The Miriam Weinberg Richter Memorial Award, a Hunter College writing competition judged by 2009 Impac Dublin winner Michael Thomas. (Adapted from Wikipedia and a January, 2016, BookPage interview. Retrieved 2/8/2016.)

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