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.
We meet Black and multi-racial 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 DC is drawn into a complex historical mystery that spans generations and puts her job, her love life and her oldest friendship at risk
What to say about this book? Well I will start with the easy bit, huge thanks to Emma at Book Break UK for sending me a proof copy of this book, it appealed to me when I saw it and then seeing it on Instagram prompted me to pick it up soon after it arrived.
So this is a collection of short stories, averaging in length between 20 and 30 pages with a longer novella to finish. All stories are highly readable and although varied have common themes of relationships and race set in America. The writing flows, the stories feel very sharp and absorbing and very difficult to review!
A favourite story? I don’t know, I loved the novella, ‘The Office of Historical Corrections’ about a woman whose job it is to correct errors in reporting history. She finds herself embroiled in a mystery, a memorial to a black man killed in an arson attack some 100 years previous, aside from the fact no one was punished for this race crime, did the victim really die? Or the one about the baby abondoned on the bus was a great story, ‘Anything Could Disappear’ left on a seat next to a young woman who admirably tries to resolve the situation, but she has $20 000 of Cocaine on her person.
As I said, the stories are varied and brilliant, this book is out now and honestly I am not sure what else to add except grab yourself a copy!
About the Author
Danielle Evans is the author of the story collection Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, winner of the PEN America PEN/Robert W.Bingham prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Aard, and the Paterson Prize, and a National Book Foundation ‘5 under 35’ selection. Her stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories. She teaches in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.