Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So

I came to understand more about Cambodian society from any one of the stories in Anthony Veasna So’s Afterparties than I did in the years during which I regularly visited the country, in the mid-1990s, as an occasional stringer for the upstart Cambodia Daily.

The country was just emerging into a self-governing democracy, or trying to, complete with its own free press, however fragile. I wandered the streets of Phnom Penh grasping for a clue as to the nature of a place and a people with which I was entirely unfamiliar. In literature, as in life, or maybe in death, since I am talking about a country ravaged by war, Cambodia had been a sideshow.