Book Review- Afterparties by Anthony Veasna
If you are looking for an interesting and well-written collection of short stories that offers an alternative perspective on what we find in the genre, I recommend afterparties. Anthony Veasna’s AfterParties is published by Ecco Books on August 3, 2021 in North America and the UK.
Author Anthony Veasna on the jacket of his highly anticipated book of short stories, Afterparties, due out in August. An electric debut by a new literary talent Anthony Vevasna zooms in on the complexities of raising as a Cambodian refugee in California. The stories in this volume provide a rapid introduction to the work of one of the year’s most exciting new literary talents with nuanced emotional precision, biting humor, compassionate insight and familiarity with queer and immigrant communities.
The book weaves the Cambodian American community into the shadow of genocide and follows refugee children as they struggle to cope with the complexity of masculinity, class and family. Afterparties (22-28) by Anthony Veasna is a darkly comic collection of interconnected short stories held together by the tight central California community of Cambodian refugees. The author explores the lives of unforgettable characters with compelling humour and astonishing tenderness.
At the center of the story are Cambodian Americans, who live a diverse and rich life. What makes the story so striking is the characters “ability to embrace life in all its chaotic beauty and darkness of the past. The story of afterparties has the power and skill to tell these details in a beam of serene and loving light that falls in different directions from the intricate struggles of George Saunders’s beloved American community.
The only real party in the book takes place in We Are the Princes, a wonderful story about family chaos after a wedding, but the book’s title evokes associations with generational and historical relations between the lives of refugees and those of their children. The stories are odes to the hilarious and ruinous tension between the practical views of first-generation immigrants and the elusive dreams of their American-born children. These are collections of stories that have at heart certain common features of the Cambodian diaspora, more than peculiarities.
Karen Russell, Carmen Maria Machado, Nana Kwame Adjei Brenyah and you can count on the authors of this century, whose debut collections of short stories were as great and career-defining as afterparties. Anthony Veasna’s collection of afterparties is extraordinary for its little-explored subject matter and its grim, funny voice that detail the lives of Cambodian Americans in California from Stockton to Silicon Valley. The characters, Cambodians and Americans, battle their way through overlapping plot arcs in Veasna’s debut collection AfterParties, which is released on August 3, in the same nameless central California city.
Like many of his characters in his debut novel, “Afterparties” Anthony Veasna has a love-hate relationship with California’s Central Valley. Nine months after the highly anticipated “after parties” that follow Cambodian Americans living in what the Central Valley calls the “hole in California”, a character is dealing with issues including reincarnation, the inherited trauma of Khmer Rouge royalty and the complex of the family. Transitions from the absurd to the tender, balanced by biting humor and sharp emotional depth, the book offers a comprehensive portrait of the life of Cambodian Americans.
Ravy Sienghay, whom he thanks in the books with fervent admiration, settled and was born in Stockton, California, and the exuberance of the stories, together with their humor, place him on the difficult terrain of this question. One of the nine short stories in afterparties relates to real families, said Khatharya, a professor at UC Berkeley and coordinator of the Asian-American and Asian Diaspora study program. In one story from the collection, a mother and her two young daughters run a 24-hour doughnut shop, The 24th.
The last story in the collection refers to a visit to Michael Jackson Elementary School after the rampage. It involves a philosophical view of death, and it calms down a little, but I kept thinking and was amazed.
The four or five stories in afterparties are good enough to give the reader the feeling that he has a lot of soul and wit in his stories, and he is just starting to tell. His favorite story in the collection is “The Shop,” which is very American, like a Robert Altman / Mbodian movie waiting for it to happen.
His collection shows that trauma is not the end of the story, not even for his characters, who are predominantly Cambodian Americans. The writers blend the same characters into calmer stories as the decades pass. The braggadocio, idealism, and bitter humor that can be found in the books become even darker in the recent stories in which the generational differences are devastating.
I am in awe of this book, and you are a true marvel. The book itself – the ghostly hilarity of Anthony Veasna – is the first book in fiction to focus on the genius of social satire, of which our time needs more. The author’s presence is so vivid in afterparties that it is a collection of stories in which he seems to elbow you as you read. A beautifully crafted story of life in a family, city and community that is under-represented in fiction.
The ghostly humour of Anthony Veasna has begun to catch up as the first book of fiction settles in, just as the genius of contemporary social satire now need it more than ever. May Lee Chai is the author of the collection of short stories called “Useful phrases for immigrants” that won the American Book Award. The stories reinvent and revive the Central Valley in the same way that the Polyglot stories of Bryan Washington’s Lot Collection reinvented the title of Houston’s Ocean Vuong novel, The Earth We Are Beautiful and allowed us to see Hartford in a new light.
Link to buy the book at Amazon.
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