This Is the Afterlife Cover

With warmth and a touch of the sardonic, Jeff Chon’s stories in this volume (the follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut Hashtag Good Guy With a Gun) deal with how we navigate the fallout of what came before—and the ways we’re then destined to navigate the fallout of those subsequent actions: disaffected Goth teens sneer their way through a Christian Fundamentalist rally where a mound of “Satanic” LPs are set ablaze in response to the hospitalization of one of their classmates; a young teacher returns to his hometown to reckon with the suicide of his friend, who was recently exposed as a necrophiliac, unable to shake the inevitability of all those desecrated lives; a local comic store sponsors a “Draw the Prophet Muhammed” contest, aided and abetted by a right-wing shock jock and a local biker gang. This Is the Afterlife is a study in the recursive nature of fate, how the end of one action’s lifespan leads to the birth of another, and how the most unexpected and bizarre twists in our lives are inevitable, even when they’re undeserved.


“One of the traits I most admire in a writer is an innate curiosity about the world. Jeff Chon possesses this quality in spades. There is no one who better gets the ever-shifting landscape of American politics and domestic life. He understands what makes people tick: the competing priorities, impulses, desires, and motives that sometimes lead us astray. This book is fascinating, layered, and never ceases to entertain: Jeff Chon has my COMPLETE and TOTAL endorsement!”

—Michael Chang, author of Almanac of Useless Talents

“These stories are bleak, but not hopeless. They’re absurd without being over the top, and delivered with equal parts humor and sympathy, even for characters who might not even deserve our sympathy. If there’s anything wrong with them it’s just that they’re too real, too potent a reminder that the world is just completely stupid.”

—Alan Good, author of The Sun Still Shines On a Dog’s Ass

“Few writers are as skilled as Jeff Chon at telling the stories of alienated weirdos, angry young men, and people on the fringes of our society. He writes these stories with empathy and humor and honesty, and even when things get bleak, there is a real energy to the prose and a deep understanding of his characters’ lives. This book rules. You should buy it.”

—Tom McAllister, author of How to Be Safe

“Although Jeff Chon’s instantly engaging collection of short stories is titled This is the Afterlife, it is our present life he captures so well in all its myriad confusions and complexities. Deeply felt, Chon writes insightfully and with compassion of young men and women dealing with stalkers, parents who are hoarders, childhood friends scarred by war and death, fragile adoptive parents, bullies with their own unique pain. Some of these stories made me laugh while others devastated me in the best ways. Chon is a profoundly talented, empathetic writer who creates worlds that that I found myself still wandering inside days after I put the book down. This is a book I know I’ll return to.”

—Caroline Kim, author of The Prince of Mournful Thoughts

“In This is the Afterlife, Jeff Chon presents characters struggling to come to grips with who they are and who they used to be, with the way their decisions and actions ripple from one moment, year, decade, life into the next. In the television show The Wire there is a question often asked when things go sideways: how you gonna carry it? The implication is simple and profound: you have a choice about how you are going to react to any one thing, and there are infinite ways to react. In This is the Afterlife, Jeff Chon shows us characters actively engaged in carrying it, gracefully or not, generously or selfishly, loosely or targeted for precision impact. Whether ‘it’ is a drunken night in high school, the impossible to forget image of a camel stepping on a landmine in the Kuwaiti desert, a friendship that has lasted long past its expiration date, or the suicide of a once-close friend, these stories have an unflinching understanding of the ways we carry our damage from one life into the next. Jeff Chon is a laser sharp and insightful writer who is building a body of work to be recognized among the best chroniclers of our disjointed, alienated, sometimes irl sometimes online, always fucked up world.”

—Dave Housley, author of The Other Ones

“This is one dark and brooding collection of stories, intricately weaving together characters and timelines to give the reader an insight into the lives of those trying to find their place in the world as they deal with bullying, racism, depression and war. Chon writes with care and a gentle humour at times, the characters feel out of sync to the world as they narrate their bit, and this makes you care for them much more than is proper…. The high school reunion where the main character meets their awful bullies of the past broke my heart, there are so many people in the world that have/will go through this and Chon has captured this moment perfectly on the page.”

—Jason Denness, in Gnome Appreciation Society

Jeff Chon’s stories and essays have appeared in The Seneca Review, The Portland Review, Barrelhouse, Juked, The North American Review, and elsewhere.

pub date: 2022-12-01
$19.95 | 166 pages
isbn: 978-1-952386-45-9 (paperback)
Cover design by Anne Marie Hantho