Cover Image: Afterparties

Afterparties

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Member Reviews

This is a powerful collection of short stories, exploring the experiences of Cambodian-Americans in California.  Several of the stories focus on different aspects of life for recent college graduates, figuring out their way in the world in the face of their desires for their own futures and the weight of their parents expectations.  Many explore the dimensions of the family relationships between parents and grandparents, on one hand, and children who have grown up in the United States.  Many explore the push and pull of community.  The stories also offer interesting observations on several aspects of life in California.  

The author is a singular voice, and this is one of the best short story collections I have read in several years.  Very highly recommended!
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I'm going to be thinking about the first and last stories in this collection for a while. They were really wonderful and showcased such emotional depth and resonance.
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There have been notable collections focussing on the challenges faced by second or third generation immigrants, living under the pressure to succeed in a world their forebears have struggled to provide for them.  Here we have such a community, in this case from Cambodia, in Stockton, "... a dusty California free of ambition or beaches."   It is particularly tragic that the author, seemingly a poster child for success of overcoming generational trauma, has died before publication.   This lends particular poignance to the final story recounting his mother's experience as a teacher in 1989 when her school underwent a racist massacre.   Although Anthony Veasna So didn't live to enjoy the expected positive reaction to his collection, he was able to see acceptance and recognition through the inclusion of his work in such publications as Granta, Zzzyva, and The New Yorker.  He knew he had broken the fate of "... what Cambo men did ... fixed cars [as did his father], sold donuts [I had no idea], or got on welfare."  At times hilarious, at times heartbreaking, at all times immersive.  Thanks to ECCO for this chance to read this early.
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Anthony Veasna So is an incredibly funny and witty writer, and I was so sorry to learn of his passing. This is an incredible debut. Each story was better than the last, and I got the sense of interconnectedness—the feeling that these characters might have grown up a few miles away from each other. I'd give this collection a 4.5 out of 5, just because some of these stories blended in with each other. I think the tone could have been a little bit more varied, and wish the Khmer genocide could have been written about in a little bit more depth.
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Anthony Veasna So’s post-humorously published short story collection, Afterparties, encapsulates queer Cambodian-American culture with so much nuance and specificity that anyone from a diasporic community can resonate with his work. This work explores the unique nature of ethnic enclaves which serve as a pillar to diasporic communities. There are always recurring cast members: aunts and uncles that may or may not be related to you, the guy who sells a few years of his life to the American military for stability, the weird uncle-figure who runs the grocery store, and the queer kid forever balancing individualism vs. collectivism.
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Trigger Warnings: Cheating, violence, porn, sex, domestic violence/abuse, school shooting,  death of family, alcohol, drugs, addiction, genocide, stalking, suicide

Representation: Cambodian, Gay, Immigrants

Afterparties Stories is a book of short stories about different Cambodian-American characters and how trauma is passed on through generations. These stories explore the lives of different children of refugees living in California and trying to explore their intersectional identities under the weight of generational trauma from their parents. 

I’ll be honest. A book of short stories is not my normal cup of tea. This book though, wow! I loved the author’s honesty and his layered, complex characters. The stories are often funny or emotional. The characters are Cambodian-Americans who’s parents lived under the Khmer Rouge. They are struggling to figure out who they are and looking for comfort in the ability to leave their small community. I think this is incredibly relatable for anyone from a tight community or small town. The fear of being one’s self while leaving the place that has provided you with everything. 

Overall, the stories are excellently written and contain both whit and love. The author’s knowledge of various experiences and his love for the community he comes from is so clear on the page. I’d recommend this book to anyone who knows what it’s like to leave home. I am so grateful for this gift that Anthony left us.

I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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What a gorgeous, playful, funny, sparkling collection of short stories. 

I'd first heard of Anthony Veasna So through book Twitter. I was late to twitter, and thus to Anthony's presence, but this much I knew: he was a writer, blisteringly talented, with a singular presence on the website; he  presented himself as "tall and tan Ocean Vuong", sending off irreverent missives and pithy observations rapid-fire onto the website where they would be devoured by writers, reviewers, and errant passers-by. This worked for him at the unsuspecting offices of n+1, and it still works now, and how lucky we are, to have the last piece of evidence of that sparkling personality, this time wrested into the shape of nine short stories. 

These stories operate in the same universe: a small town in California (modeled after, if not exactly his hometown of Stockton, California) populated with Cambodian immigrants / refugees. It's not a pity-party, but rather an exploration of the ways people make construct lives with tenderness and joy and raunchy sex after genocide. I loved it.
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Afterparties is the posthumous debut for writer Anthony Veasna So. It's a moving collection of short stories detailing life for an eclectic group of American Cambodian characters. The title is spot on as we come to realize the book deals with the complicated emotions surrounding the "afters" in life. Beautifully written and many of the stories will have you thinking about them long after you've finished the book.

Thank you to Ecco and NetGalley for this ARC.
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I felt like this was full of profound stories about different communities that I really learned about by reading this book.  Thank you to ECCO and Netgalley for this arc ebook in exchange for an honest review.
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I was so sad to learn Anthony So died last year because I had become very intrigued by the short stories of his I kept coming across. This will be his only book, and there is something haunting about reading his acknowledgements in the back of the book. I loved several of these stories, especially Three Women of Chuck’s Donuts, especially the end. Somaly Serey, Serey Somaly was also a favorite, but even the ones I didn’t love, I did admire. There is very much a sense of central California, the heat and boredom, and long slow days to be filled only to end. I also appreciated reading about contemporary Cambodian Americans, who have been affected by the trauma of their parents and grandparents.

In the coming years this book will be held up as a moment in amber, a picture of our world circa early 21st century, in small town inner California
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5 stars 

This collection is so compelling without a single weak link, and I love how the stories and characters connect in both overt and subtle ways. Though the personas and scenarios differ in each work, there's a youthful quality to their decision making and their at times revelry in mistakes that I love. That fearlessness and naivety never read as under developed or unrealistic. The heft here comes from personal experience and identity, not from age, and this might be asserted about the characters and the writer. 

The treatments of the immigrant experience, survival, trauma, queerness, and intersectional identity are profound and varied. I particularly enjoy the juxtaposition of public and private throughout all of the entries. 

This is a stunning compilation from a writer whose voice is unlike any other in the space at this time: a gift in the face of a loss to us all. Wholeheartedly recommended -
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I usually have a harder time getting into short stories, but I'd already read Three Women of Chuck's Donuts, which was immersive and its characters vibrant right from the start. So's writing is personable and alive and like, gets in your face. I really love it, so many quotes I copied down. And I just kept wanting to read the next story up, ended up loving every one, and was pleasantly surprised when I realized they're interconnected.

Don't know how to express my sadness that So passed away last year..
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Written with humor, affection and an unsparing dose of reality, Afterparties introduces the reader into the lives of Cambodian emigres and their American born children. Each story is an unforgettable experience, deftly told with wry humor and piercing insight into Cambodian American culture and American attitudes. With memorable characters and sometimes bizarre yet relatable situations, this novel left me thinking about them long after I’d finished the last page. I would love to see this made into a movie!
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This collection of short stories by Anthony Veasna So is absolutely wonderful! His writing is poetic, witty, honest, heart-breaking and funny. I was a fan of nearly every short story in the collection and feel like there’s something for everyone in this book. These stories, centered around Cambodian immigrants and their children encapsulate so much emotion, community, and insight into really deep issues with a voice that captures it all.
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I was lucky enough to get an early look at Anthony Veasna So's AFTERPARTIES through the Bookperks newsletter. Thanks for the opportunity, and have a lovely week!
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This collection includes incredibly strong character work, but some of the stories just didn't click for me. This is ENTIRELY a 'me' problem, as the writing, themes, and overall focus of this are very nearly above critique. I just wasn't in the headspace for such heavy/dark stories.
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The short stories in "Afterparties" by the late Anthony Veasna So unfold in California immigrant communities traumatized by the Cambodian genocide. Young people try to get ahead and refuse to try to get ahead. They cling to tradition or are repulsed by it. They want the pleasure of sex, of drugs, of alcohol, even though those things have disappointed them before. The characters pop up in different stories, compelling the reader to consider things from another angle over and over. My favorite story here is "Somaly Serey, Serey Somaly," in which a young woman strains to live up to the expectations of her community (you're the reincarnation of another woman in our family! be a nurse! defer to your elders! take special care of the Khmer patients!) while also facing her own physical and mental challenges.

Note: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I greatly enjoyed this collection of short stories by Anthony Veasna So. Afterparties centers around the interconnected lives, and generational trauma and conflict within a community of Cambodian Americans. From young adults in their 20s navigating life, social expectations and feelings of helplessness, to immigrants still dealing with the trauma of living through war, the characters in this collection are written with so much depth and affection. Veasna So writes with a brilliant balance of humor, sensitivity, and heart that I found myself making note of many passages that absolutely floored me. As someone of Southeast Asian heritage these stories feel alive and in some ways, very familiar, and I am grateful to have been able to read this author’s work. Thank you to NetGalley and Ecco for the ARC.
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Short stories about American Cambodian life, I loved it!!! Each short story connects in a very small way, a mix between the young American Cambodians and their elders, and what they went through, the reasons why they all migrated to the states, it was very educational, but also humorous.

 The younger Cambodians are going through the most, their parents expect the best from all of them it was so relatable. Each and every character is going through their own struggles and I love how So was able to create that for us. 

I ended up finding out that Anthony
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I was fortunate to get this book from NetGalley but unfortunately I had to stop at 61%.

This book is short stories of how ethnic groups experience racism, classism, and other disapproving reactions by the color of their skin or what social class they are in. Though this is interesting to read and to learn about different cultures, it wasn’t enough to keep my attention. I found myself wanting to hurry and finish a story or merely skip a story and didn’t want to have to force myself to do that.

Though this isn’t for me, I do feel people should read it. It may bring clarity to the world we live in, insight on what others are experiencing, and a reflection to ourselves to see where we fit in the story.
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