Anthony Veasna So Takes On Trauma, but Doesn’t Leave Out the Jokes

Classics of immigrant storytelling can feel sparse and solemn. The stories in So’s “Afterparties” fill the silence, spilling over with transgressive humor and exuberant language.

In the mid-seventies, Ted Ngoy was working the late shift at a gas station in Orange County when he tasted his first doughnut. Ngoy, then in his thirties, was instantly hooked. He trained to become a manager at Winchell’s Donuts, a popular chain, before purchasing Christy’s Donuts, a struggling shop in La Habra. Ngoy turned Christy’s around, and in the next few years he acquired more stores in the area. He is said to have popularized the pink box for to-go orders, which became a key part of doughnut iconography. By 1980, he owned twenty Christy’s Donuts throughout Southern California, and he kept expanding. He eventually became known as the Donut King, and he claimed a vast empire.

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