Excerpt from Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So , plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio


by Anthony Veasna So

Afterparties by Anthony Veasna  So X
Afterparties by Anthony Veasna  So
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2021, 272 pages

    Jun 2022, 288 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

"I'm tired of this bullshit," Kayley responds. "You guys treat me like I'm nothing."

Surveying the damage her daughters have caused, Sothy snatches the photograph from Tevy. "Clean this mess up!" she yells, and then walks out of the seating area, exasperated.

In the bathroom, Sothy splashes water on her face. She looks at her reflection in the mirror, noticing the bags under her eyes, the wrinkles fracturing her skin, then she looks down at the photo she's laid next to the faucet. Her ex-husband's youth taunts her with its boyish charm. She cannot imagine the young man in this image—decked out in his tight polo and acid-washed jeans, high on his newfound citizenship—becoming the father who has infected her daughters with so much anxious energy, and who has abandoned her, middle-aged, with obligations she can barely fulfill alone.

Stuffing the photo into the pocket of her apron, Sothy gathers her composure. Had she not left her daughters, she would have seen the man get up from the booth, turn to face the two girls, and walk into the hallway that leads to the bathroom. She would not have opened the bathroom door to find this man towering over her with his silent, sulking presence. And she would never have recognized it, the uncanny resemblance to her ex-husband that her youngest daughter has been raving about all night.

But Sothy does now register the resemblance, along with a sudden pain in her gut. The man's gaze slams into her, like a punch. It beams a focused chaos, a dim malice, and even though the man merely drifts past her, taking her place in the bathroom, Sothy can't help but think, They've come for us.

SINCE HER DIVORCE, Sothy has worked through her days weighed down by the pressure of supporting her daughters without her ex-husband. Exhaustion grinds away at her bones. Her wrists rattle with carpal tunnel syndrome. And rest is not an option. If anything, it consumes more of her energy. A lull in her day, a moment to reflect, and the resentment comes crashing down over her. It isn't the cheating she's mad about, the affair, her daughters' frivolous stepmother who calls her with misguided attempts at reconciliation. Her attraction to her ex-husband, and his to her, dissolved at a steady rate after her first pregnancy. The same cannot be said of their financial contract. That imploded spectacularly.

Her daughters have no idea, but when Sothy opened Chuck's Donuts it was with the help of a generous loan from her ex-husband's distant uncle, an influential business tycoon based in Phnom Penh with a reputation for funding political corruption. She'd heard wild rumors about this uncle, even here in California—that he was responsible for the imprisonment of the prime minister's main political opponent, that he'd gained his riches by joining a criminal organization of ex–Khmer Rouge officials, and that he'd arranged, on behalf of powerful and petty Khmer Rouge sympathizers, the murder of Haing S. Ngor. Sothy didn't know if she wanted to accept the uncle's money, to be indebted to such dark forces, to commit to a life in which she would always be afraid that hit men disguised as Khmer American gangbangers might gun her and her family down and then cover it up as a simple mugging gone wrong. If even Haing S. Ngor, the Oscar-winning movie star of The Killing Fields, wasn't safe from this fate, if he couldn't escape the spite of the powerful, how could Sothy think that her own family would be spared? Then again, what else was Sothy supposed to do, with a GED, a husband who worked as a janitor, and two small children? How else could she and her husband stimulate their dire finances? What skills did she have, other than frying dough?

Deep down, Sothy has always understood that it was a bad idea to get into business with her ex-husband's uncle, who, for all she knew, could have bankrolled Pol Pot's coup. And so, now, seeing the man's resemblance to her ex-husband, she wonders if he could be some distant gangster cousin. She fears that her past has finally caught up with her.

Excerpted from Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So . Copyright © 2021 by Anthony Veasna So . Excerpted by permission of Ecco. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Where Coyotes Howl
    Where Coyotes Howl
    by Sandra Dallas
    Where Coyotes Howl may appear to be a classically conventional historical novel — a wide-eyed ...
  • Book Jacket: After the Miracle
    After the Miracle
    by Max Wallace
    Many people have heard one particular story about Helen Keller—how the saintly teacher, Annie ...
  • Book Jacket: The Lost Wife
    The Lost Wife
    by Susanna Moore
    The Lost Wife is a hard-hitting novella based in part on a white settler named Sarah Wakefield's ...
  • Book Jacket
    Firekeeper's Daughter
    by Angeline Boulley
    Voted 2021 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Angeline Boulley's young adult ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
by Gabrielle Zevin
"Delightful and absorbing ... expansive and entertaining."
—New York Times

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Pieces of Blue
    by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    A hilarious and heartfelt novel for fans of Maria Semple and Emma Straub.

Win This Book
Win Girlfriend on Mars

30 Copies to Give Away!

A funny and poignant debut novel that skewers billionaire-funded space travel in a love story of interplanetary proportions.



Solve this clue:

S I F A R Day

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.