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Roxanne Reviews "Afterparties"

by Anthony Veasna So

Anthony Veasna So was just beginning what would have been an illustrious writing career. Colleges Stanford and Syracuse educated, So was also a professor at the latter. Sadly, So died suddenly in December 2020 at the tender age of 28.

Yet sympathy is not what should entice you to read his amazing short story collection, Afterparties, since his gift for capturing human interactions is on par with seasoned writing icons.

As a second generation Cambodian growing up in Stockton, California, So’s cultural pride and history glistens throughout the stories. Every tale is spoken through the lens of tenacity and striving to achieve the American Dream.

But the most prolific writers can make their personal stories accessible to readers of any nationality, gender, sexual preference and So’s ability to capture characters with universal conflicts hammers home that we are all in the same human race.

To be specific, with sardonic wit, he tackles the topic of men attempting to hold on to their athletic glory days in “Superking Son Scores Again”, extended family financial competition often exacerbated at weddings in the spot on “Afterparties”, cousins we sometimes cherish more than siblings in “Maly, Maly, Maly”, and parents both single and married, who sacrifice their own needs and happiness to build a better future for their children in “Three Women of Chuck’s Donuts”, just to name a few.

Like many young adults felled too soon, while we won’t get to see what So would have accomplished with more life span, we can appreciate this gorgeous collection of short stories.

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