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.
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In the BOTM fb group, people who didn’t like this book are generally vapid types who “don’t get the point.” This is a MUST READ. The namesake novella should be required reading. Amazing and haunting.
I wish there was a ranking higher than “Loved”. Evans is an eloquent, yet extremely relatable writer with a gift for crafting a beautiful arching story with equally compelling anecdotes along the way
Evans doesn’t pull any punches. The characters are fully fleshed out, flawed, and believable. She’ll crack a joke and then hit you with a hard truth in the next breath. The novella was phenomenal.￼
The novella was leagues better than the short stories, but as a whole, the book is worth a read. My favorite short story was about the apologetic artist. Didn’t know what to expect here, but enjoyed.
Wow. Powerful and thought provoking, these short stories aren’t ones I’ll soon forget. I have not liked books of short stories I’ve read in the past, but I’m glad I took a chance here. Amazing.
Alhambra , CA
A collection of short stories about injustice and hardships Black people had to face in history and today’s society, and leaving the reader questioning the world we are in. I really enjoyed the book.
Wow. These short stories were so smart and haunting and insanely creative. I wanted each one to be it’s own novel, especially the title novella - so invested in each story despite their short length.
Went out on a limb ordering this one and boy, it didn’t disappoint! Each short story in the collection was entertaining and engaging. Characters were layered and complex. Enjoyed the different lens.
Jamaica Plain, MA
Each story reads like a modern fable. The messages as nuanced as the characters, brought to life by the balanced, poetic, and fitfully angry Danielle Evans. The strangeness and familiarity is haunting
Santa Rosa, CA
Loved this collection of stories! I usually avoid short stories. Boy am I glad I took a chance. I was immediately captivated by each story within a few sentences. The stories were true and heartfelt.
Danielle Evans had a voice that must be heard. I was immediately drawn into her descriptions of people and places, able to visualize every detail of her writing. This needs to be read, it must be read
Loved this book! Absolutely amazing. I loved that each story required that you take time to stop and reflect before starting the next. Well written, thought provoking, timely and so needed right now.
A truly perfect collection of infinitely insightful stories, and characters that you become instantly and permanently attached to after just a few pages. Lovelier words are hard to come by these days.
Mount Rainier, MD
Not usually one for short stories, but this combination was fantastic. There’s brilliance throughout, but the finale and title story is the masterclass. Like The Vanishing Half in theme, but better.
I don't read short story collections too often, but when I do I tend to like them. I certainly liked this one. What a great cross-section of the lives of Black women. Heart wrenching and heart warming
Erie , PA
You dont think that short stories can be as eye opening as they are. This one really makes you think about your actions and the phrases we say to others and how we really dont know whag others go thru
Evans had me spinning with each short story, pushing you through subtle yet glaring commentaries on race and American culture and perfectly complemented my next read The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
First, I’ve discovered that short stories are the perfect format for quarantine reading. Moreover, these stories are so well-conceived, concise, and cogent, they have so much to say in so few pages.
Wow - each story was moving and the characters engaging. As each story ended, I felt a need to know more but was also satisfied I knew enough - the hallmark of a truly gifted writer. Highly recommend.
The first story was a little underwhelming for me, but after that every one was rock solid, leading to many dog ears pages I intend to revisit. Characters are so well developed. Absolutely recommend.