[A] remarkable début collection ... So is hardly given to stoic silences. The young people in Afterparties spill forth with language ... So skillfully conjures the rhythm of conversations ... It feels transgressive that Afterparties is so funny, so irreverent, concerning the previous generation’s tragedy ... His sentences are brusque and punchy, and there’s an outrageous, slapstick quality to his scenes. But the stories often end on a haunting note, resonating with the broader consequences of leaving or staying.
The presence of the author is so vivid in Afterparties, Anthony Veasna So’s collection of stories, he seems to be at your elbow as you read ... The personality that animates Afterparties is unmistakably youthful, and the stories themselves are mainly built around conditions of youth—vexed and tender relationships with parents, awkward romances, nebulous worries about the future. But from his vantage on the evanescent bridge to maturity, So is puzzling out some big questions, ones that might be exigent from different vantages at any age. The stories are great fun to read—brimming over with life and energy and comic insight and deep feeling.
... a deeply personal, frankly funny, illuminating portrait of furtive, meddling aunties, sweaty, bored adolescents and the plaintive search for survival that connects them. Its nine stories sketch a world of hidden histories, of longings past and present, and of a culture carving its way out of historical trauma. It is a testament to the burgeoning talent of So ... The collection lives on as an ode to the Stockton of So’s youth, to the greasy doughnut stores and boisterous auto shops where pointed questions about identity, tragedy and belonging come to life ... many second-generation readers will easily recognize their own stories in his words. But while the past colors the characters’ experiences, So’s vibrant writing is unmistakably rooted in the present. Electric, alive and transportive, Afterparties is a glimpse of a world rarely seen in literature, and of a talent gone too soon.