Acclaimed Khmer American writer Anthony Veasna So, whose collection of short stories “Afterparties” is set to debut in August 2021, died on Dec. 8 at his home in San Francisco. He was 28.
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Literary rising star: So’s partner Alex Torres confirmed the author’s death, noting that the cause remains unknown as it was sudden and unexpected, reports the New York Times.
- So had recently signed a two-book, six-figure deal with publisher Ecco.
- Ecco won the publishing rights for the highly anticipated collection following a bidding war with other interested parties, according to the Associated Press.
- Author Jonathan Dee described the upcoming book as a “history-haunted comedy of Cambodian-American manners.”
- Helen Atsma, So’s editor, praised So for his writing’s “blazing wit, crackling energy, deep empathy.”
- Prior to his untimely death, So was reportedly working on a novel, “about three Khmer-American cousins — a pansexual rapper, a comedian philosopher, and a hot-headed illustrator.”
I am devastated for Anthony Veasna So’s partner, family, and friends—and for the wider literary world. AFTERPARTIES was one of the first books I acquired for Ecco, and everything about Anthony’s exuberant writing felt new to me—its blazing wit, crackling energy, deep empathy. https://t.co/6uYHElU8Uk
— Helen Atsma (@helenatsma) December 10, 2020
My friend and former student, Anthony So, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday. Please join me in helping support his partner Alex Torres. https://t.co/AloFAOwBmy
— Claire Jarvis (@cejarvis) December 10, 2020
Refugees’ son: So is a San Francisco resident who described himself as a “queer boy, a Khmer-American son of former refugees, a failed computer scientist, a grotesque parody of the model minority, and a graduate of Stanford University.”
- So filled most of his writing with characters embodying his personal struggles with sexual and cultural identity as well as the pain his family endured during the Khmer Rouge’s dictatorial rule back in Cambodia.
- So was a lecturer at different schools such as Syracuse University and Colgate University and the Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants in Oakland.
- He has received a PD Soros Fellowship, a Lambda Literary Fellowship, a Kundiman Fellowship, a Tin House Scholarship, a Show us Your Spines Residency with the James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center at the San Francisco Public Library, and the Joyce Carol Oates Award in Fiction.
- The author is survived by Torres, his parents, Sienghay So and Ravy So; his sister and brother-in-law, Samantha Lamb and Zachary Lamb; and his nephew, Oliver Lamb.
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