Orientation Book

On behalf of the Orientation Book Committee, we are delighted to announce that we’ve chosen Anthony Veasna So’s Afterparties  for this coming academic year.  

About Afterparties: A posthumously published collection of short stories by a young Cambodian American fiction writer, Afterparties is a tour de force constellation of coming-of-age stories set within a Central Valley community of refugees and their children grappling with the intergenerational trauma of genocide. At turns startling, sad, affirming, and funny, the stories in Afterparties invite their readers to think about race and sexuality across friendships, families, and communities

All incoming students with a permanent U.S. address will receive a copy of the book in the mail. Students living abroad will receive access to a digital copy but can claim physical book in August. Books will all be distributed by the end of June 2024.

Here is more about the book from the 2023-2024 first-year class president, Diane Nguyen:

Dear Incoming Sagehens,

My name is Diane Nguyen from Hanoi, Vietnam. As the current first-year Class President, I am

thrilled to welcome you to Pomona College and I am excited to introduce you to the Orientation

Book Program, which was a memorable part of my own first year experience.

 

This year, after much deliberation and review of many worthy contenders, we have selected

Afterparties: stories (2021) by Anthony Veasna So. This brilliant collection delves into the lives

of Cambodian Americans, offering a vivid exploration of their experiences. The stories adeptly

mix light-hearted moments with significant reflections on themes such as race, sexuality,

friendship, and family—each narrative underlined by the historical echoes of the Khmer Rouge

past. George Saunders captured it best, noting that the stories in Afterparties, “powered by So’s

skill with the telling detail, are like beams of wry, affectionate light, falling from different

directions on a complicated, struggling, beloved American community.”

 

Our goal with the Orientation Book Program is not only to select a book that we feel will

resonate with you, but also to cultivate a special culture of reading. By placing a single book at

the center of our collective attention, we are eager to facilitate community conversations and

immerse students in the intellectual life of the college—one in which books and discussions

transcend the classroom. You will discuss Afterparties in a variety contexts: with your sponsor

groups, on OA trips, during orientation seminars, at community events throughout the Fall

semester, and at our campus writing center, now known as Center for Speaking, Writing, and the

Image (CSWIM). At the CSWIM, you will meet with trained academic partners who are not only

eager to delve with you into this year's book but also to help you develop your own voice as you

transition to writing, reading, and speaking, throughout your broader journey at Pomona.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, even though I admittedly squeezed it in during finals

week! The narrative style deeply immersed me and allowed me to connect with the emotions,

situations, and thoughts of characters across various stories. I was particularly moved by how

themes like friendship, family, love, individuality, and sexuality are intricately woven into

beautiful and evocative narratives. One of my favorite stories, "Superking Son Scores Again,"

revisits the past glories of a badminton coach's youth. I found each story in the collection

compelling, and I hope you do too!

 

Enjoy your reading, and I look forward to meeting you soon!

 

Warmest regards,

Diane Nguyen ‘27

 

2023-2024 Orientation Book Committee

Colleen Rosenfeld, associate professor of English, committee chair

Malte Dold, assistant professor of economics

Thomas Flaherty, John P. and Magdalena R. Dexter Professor of Music

M. Bilal Nasir, assistant professor of Asian American studies

Sara K. Olson, associate professor of biology

Frederike von Schwerin-High, professor of German and Russian

Josh Eisenberg, associate dean of students/dean of campus life 

Diane Nguyen '27