Riots I Have Known

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About The Book

Longlisted for the 2019 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, Ryan Chapman’s “gritty, bracing debut” (Esquire) set during a prison riot is “dark, daring, and laugh-out-loud hilarious…one of the smartest—and best—novels of the year” (NPR).

A largescale riot rages through Westbrook prison in upstate New York, incited by a poem in the house literary journal. Our unnamed narrator, barricaded inside the computer lab, swears he’s blameless—even though, as editor-in-chief, he published the piece in question. As he awaits violent interruption by his many, many enemies, he liveblogs one final Editor’s Letter. Riots I Have Known is his memoir, confession, and act of literary revenge.

His tale spans a childhood in Sri Lanka, navigating the postwar black markets and hotel chains; employment as a Park Avenue doorman, serving the widows of the one percent; life in prison, with the silver lining of his beloved McNairy; and his stewardship of The Holding Pen, a “masterpiece of post-penal literature” favored by Brooklynites everywhere. All will be revealed, and everyone will see he’s really a good guy, doing it for the right reasons.

“Fitfully funny and murderously wry,” Riots I Have Known is “a frenzied yet wistful monologue from a lover of literature under siege” (Kirkus Reviews).

About The Author

Photograph by Beowulf Sheehan

Ryan Chapman is a Sri Lankan-American writer originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota. His work has appeared online at The New YorkerGQMcSweeney’s, BookForumBOMBGuernica, and The Believer. A recipient of fellowships from Vermont Studio Center and the Millay Colony for the Arts, he lives in Kingston, New York.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 26, 2020)
  • Length: 128 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501197314

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