Afterparties: Stories (Compact Disc)
The late author's debut short story collection is a bittersweet marvel. While the stories themselves are tonally inflected with a hypnotic melange of melancholy and tenderness, this book is also So's swan song; he passed away shortly before Afterparties' publication. In Afterparties, So leads readers through the lives of Cambodian-Americans in Northern California reckoning with sexuality, familial turmoil, poverty, and generational trauma. Each of these stories was, in equal parts, entertaining and illuminating. Surprising, humorous, and captivating, Afterparties is a wondrous collection that will not disappoint.— Malik
August 2021 Indie Next List
“These stories of the members of a compact Cambodian-American community, from the refugees to the business owners to the gay teenagers, seamlessly balance humor with hardships.”
— Sofia Silva Wright, Phoenix Books Burlington, Burlington, VT
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).