Title: Afterparties: Stories
Author: Anthony Veasna So
Publisher: Grove Press/Atlantic Monthly Press
Genre: Short Stories
To be diverse in reading is one of the greatest joys according to me. You read diversely and you are aware about so much that goes on – and not just that, I think to some extent it also perhaps makes you a better person.
Afterparties: Stories by Anthony Veasna So is one such book. A book that makes you see people differently, their lives perhaps with a little more empathy, and more than anything else, I felt some of the stories hit harder as a gay man. Sexuality in these stories is subtle and yet makes such a huge impact on the reader.
The stories in this collection are so diverse, and from the same community – the Cambodian Americans. From “Three Women of Chuck’s Donuts” where these women are seen fighting, talking, and reading Wittgenstein behind the window of their bakery in wee hours, trying desperately hard to make sense of their identity while being stuck, to “Generational Differences”, where a survivor of the Khmer Rouge has also witnessed a school shooting, and is only doing her best to raise her son differently and without any further trauma, these stories become more than just being tragic.
At the same time, these stories speak of renewal, of healing, of finding solace in the mundane and the monotonous. So’s people are mostly queer, angry, romantic, hopeful, and displaced – survivors of the genocide, trying to find their way in the world.
Afterparties is a collection of stories that is predictable, also unassuming sometimes, and lets its characters explore detours and various twists in the tale through the complexities of their cultural identity. Please read it.
*Anthony Veasno So died from a drug overdose in 2020. He was twenty-eight years old.