Sharp, insightful, compulsively readable. This story collection cuts right to the heart of contemporary American life.
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Why I love it
15-time Grammy winning artist/songwriter/producer
In her title story, "The Office of Historical Corrections," Danielle Evans imagines a world in which our society’s understanding of truth is so fractured that we have an entire governmental agency to help us separate fact from fiction. If this sounds like fantasy, consider how unreal reality has felt at so many moments over the past few years. What I love about this book is how it focuses on how our perceptions of what’s real clash with our capacity for honesty. Can we be honest with ourselves? Who are we and what do we stand for?
In five short stories and one novella, Evans shows us characters whose choices illuminate who they truly are. A young woman faces an impossible decision when she finds herself on a Greyhound bus in the company of an abandoned boy. An actress haunted by her mother’s medical battles reflects on her own fraught experiences of navigating her health. A college student enrages her classmates by refusing to reckon with why a viral social post of herself in a Confederate-flag bikini offends. These stories creatively show the daily demands put on women, particularly Black women, while offering insight, compassion, and even moments of dark humor.
This is the kind of book that is resonant with themes I’ve explored in my own storytelling: judgment, uncertainty, and loss as well as love, joy, and courage. You may find yourself reading it quickly, because the stories will keep you turning the pages, then again more slowly, soaking up all it has to give.
Danielle Evans is widely acclaimed for her blisteringly smart voice and x-ray insights into complex human relationships. With The Office of Historical Corrections, Evans zooms in on particular moments and relationships in her characters' lives in a way that allows them to speak to larger issues of race, culture, and history. She introduces us to Black and multiracial characters who are experiencing the universal confusions of lust and love, and getting walloped by grief—all while exploring how history haunts us, personally and collectively. Ultimately, she provokes us to think about the truths of American history—about who gets to tell them, and the cost of setting the record straight.
In "Boys Go to Jupiter," a white college student tries to reinvent herself after a photo of her in a Confederate-flag bikini goes viral. In "Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain," a photojournalist is forced to confront her own losses while attending an old friend's unexpectedly dramatic wedding. And in the eye-opening title novella, a Black scholar from Washington, D.C., is drawn into a complex historical mystery that spans generations and puts her job, her love life, and her oldest friendship at risk.