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Grove Press to publish late writer Anthony Veasna So

5th May 2021

Grove Press is publishing the debut short story collection of Anthony Veasna So, the Cambodian-American fiction writer and promising talent who died aged 28 earlier this month.

Publisher Peter Blackstock acquired UK Commonwealth (excluding Canada) rights in Afterparties from Caspian Dennis at Abner Stein, on behalf of Rob McQuilkin at Massie & McQuilkin. It will be published in hardback and e-book in August 2021. US rights were previously acquired by Helen Atsma at Ecco.

A month after the acquisition was made, So (pictured) died at the age of 28, on 8th December 2020. In an obituary, the New York Times described him as “the author of crackling, kinetic and darkly comedic stories that made vivid the lives of first-generation Khmer-Americans.” His death was announced by Ecco, the imprint of HarperCollins in the US that had won his work at auction, but no additional details were provided; his partner said it was “sudden and unexpected”.

Afterparties is a collection of stories that paint a portrait of the lives of Cambodian-Americans, predominantly children of refugees in California who shoulder the inherited weight of the Khmer Rouge genocide. The publisher’s synopsis states: “In these intoxicating, and both hilarious and poignant stories, Anthony Veasna So navigates the intimacy of queer and immigrant communities in the US, and explores questions of immigration, family, race and sexuality.”

Born and raised in Stockton, California, the author lived in San Francisco and was a graduate of Stanford University. He earned his MFA in Fiction at Syracuse University, and his writing appeared in publications including the New Yorker, n+1, Granta and ZYZZYVA.

“I was devastated to hear about Anthony’s death,” said Blackstock, who had known So since 2018. “A month ago, I was thrilled to be able to be in touch with Anthony again as his UK publisher. I know that readers outside North America will love the humour and swagger and emotion in these unforgettable stories, and I feel privileged to be Anthony’s champion in the UK, even in these extremely sad circumstances. The whole Grove UK team and I are so looking forward to helping bring Afterparties to the broadest audience possible.”

Anthony Veasna So