kaya publishes books of the asian pacific diaspora

so many olympic exertions

We’re excited to announce that Anelise Chen’s debut novel, So Many Olympic Exertions, is available now, and will be launched widely on August 22, 2017.

Blending elements of self-help, memoir, and sports writing, So Many Olympic Exertions is an experimental novel that perhaps most resembles what the ancient Greeks called hyponemeta, or “notes to the self” in the form of observations, reminders, and self-exhortations. Taken together, these notes constitute a personal handbook on “how to live” or perhaps more urgently “why to live,” a question the narrator, graduate student Athena Chen, desperately needs answered.

When Chen hears news that her brilliant friend from college has committed suicide, she is thrown into a fugue of fear and doubt. Through a fascinating collection of anecdotes and close readings of moments in the sometimes harrowing (i.e. bloody) world of sports, the novel questions the validity and usefulness of our current narratives of success by focusing attention on seemingly mundane, unexpected, or “failed” moments.

A deep examination of life’s epic and daily moments, So Many Olympic Exertions puts a spin on the auto-fiction trend in the vein of Sheila Heti and Ben Lerner to examine what counts as meaningful in the field of our lives. Is it “winning” goals, dominating others, acting upon unbridled ambition, or the relentless stockpiling of fame and validation? Or can meaning be generated in other ways, through moments of mutuality and shared practice? Anelise Chen brings you a completely original take on the sports narrative in her debut novel.

A graduate of the MFA in fiction at NYU, Anelise’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Gawker, The Morning News, The Rumpus, VICE, and BOMB Magazine.

Anelise is currently a fiction editor at The Margins, a publication of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and recently debuted a Daily column in The Paris Review in which she explores the scientific phylum Mollusca. Born in Taipei and raised in Los Angeles, she lives in Manhattan’s Chinatown and teaches at Columbia University.

Anelise has an upcoming appearance at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop in New York on July 14th at 7 pm with novelists Eugene Lim and Patti Yumi-Cottrell, moderated by our own Lisa Chen! The event is a $5 suggested donation and open to the public. Click here for more information.

Can’t wait to get your hands on a copy? So Many Olympic Exertions has been featured in VICE and BOMB Magazine. You can also order the novel by clicking here. Ask for it at your local bookstores and libraries!!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We'd love to know what you think.


“The most consistent intelligent wide-ranging committed press I know – Kaya is an example of how to turn ‘small’ books into literary arrows that shoot straight and true into the heart of our culture and (of course) ourselves.”

— Junot Díaz