When Anthony Veasna So died in December, aged just 28, he left behind a reputation as an author on the brink of stardom, a powerful voice for other Khmer youth growing up in America in the shadow of the collective tragedy of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.
Now, a collection of his short stories, Afterparties, has been published, helping his fiction to reach a larger audience. Many of the tales have already appeared in leading magazines, including The New Yorker and literary journal n+1, but Afterparties offers a chance to read them as a whole, and combined they feel far greater than the sum of their parts.
The nine stories are filled with vignettes of Cambodian-American life, with younger generations growing up burdened with the inherited trauma of life under the Khmer Rouge, the vicious regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 and instigated a genocide that killed up to two million people, a fifth of the country’s population.
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