So won the award for his debut novel, Afterparties, a story collection about Cambodian American life and in particular the queer and immigrant communities. The book is currently available for pre-order.
Afterparties has generated immense hype prior to its release, with an initial printing of 100,000 copies. The story collection’s many accolades include being a New York Times bestseller and is named Book of the Year by the LA Times and TIME.
His Khmer identity and sexuality informs his work, grappling with the aftermath of the Cambodian Genocide. Monica Sok, a friend of So’s, said that his work is important as it is one of the few pieces of Khmer fiction that goes beyond “survival literature.”
Dana Spiotta, who taught So at Syracuse University, remarks that his writing style often used bleak humor to “talk about the generational difference and the tension there, and also the burden of it and the responsibility.”
So later taught at Syracuse University as well as the Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants based in Oakland.
Prior to his death, So was working on a second book about three Khmer American cousins. His publisher, Ecco, announced that they will publish a collection of So’s unfinished work, called Songs on Endless Repeat.
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