Songs on Endless Repeat: Essays and Outtakes (Hardcover)
A Most Anticipated Book of 2023 from: LA Times * Boston Globe * The Millions * LitHub * Shondaland
By the New York Times bestselling author of the award-winning AFTERPARTIES comes a collection like none other: sharply funny, emotionally expansive essays and linked short fiction exploring family, queer desire, pop culture, and race
The late Anthony Veasna So’s debut story collection, Afterparties, was a landmark publication, hailed as a “bittersweet triumph for a fresh voice silenced too soon” (Fresh Air). And he was equally known for his comic, soulful essays, published in n+1, The New Yorker, and The Millions.
Songs on Endless Repeat gathers those essays together, along with previously unpublished fiction. Written with razor-sharp wit and an unflinching eye, the essays examine his youth in California, the lives of his refugee parents, his intimate friendships, loss, pop culture, and more. And in linked fiction following three Cambodian American cousins who stand to inherit their late aunt’s illegitimate loan-sharking business, So explores community, grief, and longing with inimitable humor and depth.
Following “one of the most exciting contributions to Asian American literature in recent years” (Vulture), Songs on Endless Repeat is an astonishing final expression by a writer of “extraordinary achievement and immense promise” (The New Yorker).
About the Author
Anthony Veasna So (1992-2020) was a graduate of Stanford University and earned his MFA in fiction at Syracuse University. His New York Times-bestselling story collection Afterparties was long-listed for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and won both the Ferro Grumley Award for LGBTQ fiction and the NBCC John Leonard Prize for best first book. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, n+1, Granta, and ZYZZYVA. A native of Stockton, California, he taught at Colgate University, Syracuse University, and the Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants in Oakland, California.
"This posthumous collection of stories and essays affirms [So's] versatility, secures his legacy, and bittersweetly reminds us of what could have been." — The Millions
"Anthony Veasna So’s talent for evoking the anxieties, longings, and memories of diasporic Cambodian Americans — on voluptuous display in his posthumously published short story collection “Afterparties” — is put to vivid use in this new collection of delicately hinged essays that address everything from “deep reality TV” to So’s stint as an art student." — Boston Globe
“It seems impossible to read these excerpts without wishing for more—from these characters, from this narrative, for this author. . . .Another posthumous publication from a writer who was only just discovering his brilliance.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Before his death in 2020 at 28, Cambodian American writer So was poised for greatness on a number of fronts: He was an irreverent writer about immigrant enclaves, queer life and the Bay Area’s nether reaches. [Songs on Endless Repeat]. . .demonstrate[s] he was also a stellar cultural critic in the making.” — Los Angeles Times
“So’s essays resonate with vulnerable eloquence, but his potency lies in storytelling, effortlessly creating immersive worlds animated by familiar, vital characters, their vibrancy further magnifying the poignant loss of what could have been.” — Booklist
"So’s distinctive voice blends mordant cultural criticism with a striking combination of humor, compassion, and insight. This is a bittersweet testament to an astounding talent." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“In both his fiction and nonfiction, So’s generous writing spirit shines through, capturing a community of people in flux, all of whom are trying to make space for themselves—and each other—in a sometimes-claustrophobic world.” — Daneet Steffens, The Boston Globe
“Pieces originally published in the New Yorker, n+1 and elsewhere seamlessly integrate his Cambodian American family, California upbringing, queer identity and personal relationships both romantic and platonic. So’s work defines a life of longing — and will leave you longing for more.” — Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times
“Following up his award-nominated collection of stories is this fantastic anthology of essays (with a few stories mixed in) about queer life, race, family, his refugee parents, growing up in California, culture, and more.” — Liberty Hardy, BookRiot
“This posthumous collection of stories and essays includes already published pieces and new fiction, all written with razor-sharp wit. Mining his youth in California and the lives of his refugee parents, Songs on Endless Repeat is full of vivid explorations of family, queer desire, pop culture, race and more.” — Sarah Stievfvater, Purewow
“Shrewd, funny, inviting, and enlightening.” — Arianna Rebolini, Bustle
“Magnificent. . . . So’s distinctive voice blends mordant cultural criticism with a striking combination of humor, compassion, and insight. This is a bittersweet testament to an astounding talent.” — Publishers Weekly
“Songs on Endless Repeat. . .displays many of the same coruscating traits as Afterparties: a pitch-perfect ear for dialogue, a knack for pungent prose and a large-hearted capacity to commune with people across what So calls the ‘Cambo proh racial complex spectrum.’. . . So was that rarest of species: not just a novelist, but a formidable critic.” — Los Angeles Times
“The late Anthony Veasna So was capable of so much more literary brilliance, a fact made abundantly clear by this posthumously published collection of essays and fiction. It’s impossible to not grieve the loss of So, a San Francisco writer and Stockton native who died at age 28 in 2020, months before the publication of his debut story collection, but this book leaves readers with a lasting impression of the Cambodian American author’s wicked sense of humor and wide-open heart.”
— San Francisco Chronicle
“An emotional, incisive collection.” — New York magazine
“Terrific. . . . So's novel recaptures all the elements that made Afterparties a bestseller. He observes his characters with a sharp eye and deep affection. His turns of phrase are brilliant, hilarious, at times profane and always whip-smart. . . . Songs on Endless Repeat is not to be missed.” — Star Tribune
“[T]he essays and short fiction in this second collection have the same crisp humor and edgy vulnerability that made his first an instant best seller…So’s true art lives on inside his books, now an everlasting loop that will never get old." — Elisabeth Egan, New York Times