Riots

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RIOTS I HAVE KNOWN

May 2019, Simon & Schuster

An electric, uproarious, and biting debut novel set during a prison riot, told in a high-comic pitch in the tradition of Paul Beatty’s “The Sellout” and Aravind Adiga’s “The White Tiger.”

An unnamed Sri Lankan inmate has barricaded himself inside a prison computer lab in Dutchess County, New York. A riot rages outside, incited by a poem/escape plan published in “The Holding Pen,” the house literary journal. This, our narrator’s final Editor’s Letter, is his confession. An official accounting of events, as they happened.

As he awaits imminent and violent interruption, he takes us on a roller-coaster of plot and language, determined to share his life story, maybe answer a few questions. How did he end up here? Should he have remained a quiet Park Avenue doorman? Or continued his rise in the black markets of postwar Sri Lanka? What will become of “The Holding Pen,” a “masterpiece of post-penal literature” favored by Brooklynites everywhere? And why does everyone think the riots are his fault? Can’t they see he’s really a good guy, doing it for the right reasons?

Smart, wry, and laugh-out-loud funny, Ryan Chapman’s “Riots I Have Known” is an utter gem—an approachable send-up that packs a punch. Alexandra Kleeman, author of “You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine,” says, “Ryan Chapman has written a rocket-powered ode to literary creation and mass incarceration. Weaving satire and seriousness into a singularly rambunctious monologue, ‘Riots I Have Known’ is a breath of fresh air.”

[Read an excerpt at The Millions]

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If you’re interested in a copy for review or an interview, please contact my publicist Cat Boyd. If you’d like to order the book—thereby earning my gratitude and lifelong respect—you can do so at the retailers below. My favorite independent bookstores are Greenlight, Books Are Magic, WORD, and Rough Draft. There is an ebook edition as well.


Simon Audio has a wonderful audiobook edition, narrated by Vikas Adam! Here’s an excerpt, with links below.