A review by zac_housedownbooks
Afterparties, by Anthony Veasna So


It hurts to read literature so brilliant and insightful written by someone who can no longer publish; even more so because their life ended too soon. What Anthony Veasna So has written will live on, especially in the hearts and minds of queer and refugee communities.

I gave this book 5 stars not because So's writing is itself revolutionary or the most brilliant of our time. I gave it 5 stars because it is a necessary and impactful collection of stories that are speaking from a perspective that is missing from mainstream publishing. Queer stories are becoming more common, but there is still a lot of ground to cover for queer POC and especially queer refugees. The Cambodian experience in America is underrepresented, and So is providing a glimpse into a world that many readers have never experienced.

Each story is its own unique work of art. I love the subtle mention of other stories, creating an air of cohesion in a collection of moments that happen throughout different spaces and times. Queerness, otherness, foreignness, Cambodianness, escape from reality, what it means to live for yourself vs living for others; these themes run through the collection and bind them tighter than any self-reference can. I even felt that I could find myself in some of the stories. Their universality reached through the page and connected me to So despite us coming from two completely different backgrounds.

I want to thank So for his contributions to literature in his short life, and I can only hope that his stories reach those who need them the most. If someone can learn from or see themselves in his work, then he has accomplished what some authors fail to do over a long career. And it's the beauty of that which makes this collection a proud addition to my shelves.