This collection of stories about the Cambodian American community in central California is funny, insightful, and exuberant. Anthony Veasna So was an author with an eye for both the precision of the telling detail and the generalized weight of history. Recommended By Keith M., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A Roxane Gay's Audacious Book Club Pick
Named a Best Book of Summer by: Wall Street Journal * Thrillist * Vogue * Lit Hub * Refinery29 * New York Observer * The Daily Beast * Time * BuzzFeed * Entertainment Weekly
A vibrant story collection about Cambodian-American life — immersive and comic, yet unsparing — that offers profound insight into the intimacy of queer and immigrant communities
Seamlessly transitioning between the absurd and the tenderhearted, balancing acerbic humor with sharp emotional depth, Afterparties offers an expansive portrait of the lives of Cambodian-Americans. As the children of refugees carve out radical new paths for themselves in California, they shoulder the inherited weight of the Khmer Rouge genocide and grapple with the complexities of race, sexuality, friendship, and family.
A high school badminton coach and failing grocery store owner tries to relive his glory days by beating a rising star teenage player. Two drunken brothers attend a wedding afterparty and hatch a plan to expose their shady uncle's snubbing of the bride and groom. A queer love affair sparks between an older tech entrepreneur trying to launch a "safe space" app and a disillusioned young teacher obsessed with Moby-Dick. And in the sweeping final story, a nine-year-old child learns that his mother survived a racist school shooter.
The stories in Afterparties, "powered by So's skill with the telling detail, are like beams of wry, affectionate light, falling from different directions on a complicated, struggling, beloved American community" (George Saunders).
“Even when these stories are funny and hopeful, an inescapable history is always waiting.” Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
“A wildly energetic, heartfelt, original debut by a young writer of exceptional promise. These stories, powered by So's skill with the telling detail, are like beams of wry, affectionate light, falling from different directions on a complicated, struggling, beloved American community.” George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo
"So (1992-2020) conjures literary magic in his hilarious and insightful posthumous debut....After this immersive introduction to the Central Valley community, readers won't want to leave." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“A bright and fearless debut, full of heart, joy, and unforgettable characters.” Douglas Stewart, author of Shuggie Bain
“Afterparties weaves through a Cambodian-American community in the shadow of genocide, following the children of refugees as they grapple with the complexities of masculinity, class, and family. Anthony Veasna So explores the lives of these unforgettable characters with bracing humor and startling tenderness. A stunning collection from an exciting new voice.” Brit Bennett, author of The Vanishing Half
“Anthony Veasna So is a terrific writer. These wild, complex, and funny stories are brilliant in every way. They also speak in profound ways to this troubled American moment. One of the most exciting debuts of the past decade.” Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others
“The sheer richness and energy of So's narratives can't be overstated — his characters are full of love, and full of longing, and full of laughter, and full of the possibilities that life offers them and also the ones it hides. It's rare and magical and wild to find queer life, as it's actually lived, on the page — or on any pages — with all its multiplicities and creases and paradoxes and curves, and yet So lays it out for us, sparing nothing and giving everything. I was in awe through the entire collection — and you will be, too. Afterparties is an actual marvel.” Bryan Washington, author of Memorial
About the Author
Anthony Veasna So (1992-2020) was a graduate of Stanford University and earned his MFA in fiction at Syracuse University. His writing has appeared in or is forthcoming in the New Yorker, The Paris Review n+1, Granta, and ZYZZYVA. A native of Stockton, California, he taught at Colgate University, Syracuse University, and the Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants in Oakland, California.