The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans* is a collection of 6 short stories and the title novella. These stories deal with race issues in US and it is written in such a lovely and interesting way. I am not biased when it comes to race because I was raised in multi-cultural city in Romania where there were people with different faiths, different backgrounds (some gypsy/travellers), but there weren’t any black people. I saw the first black person in my late teens, so I can look at race issues more objectively as I never had to deal with privilege or lack of it due to my skin colour.

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

As I mentioned there are a few short stories and the novella in The Office of Historical Corrections and I will talk about each one in a few sentences.

Happily Ever After follows a woman and her relationship with men, for a few days, without an end as we might imagine. It was interesting and nicely written.

Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain is about a wedding that goes wrong. Some of the things mentioned are really interesting when it comes to people’s expectations and the reality.

Boys Go To Jupiter was my favourite story. Claire, the only white protagonist from the book, is a student. She is labelled as racist after she wears a Confederate bikini. The whole story is so relevant to today’s views on race and what being a racist means. Also, the whole issue could have been easily solved if empathy was taught and also if people would have stopped and talk to each other. I liked how Evans made the story flow, without judgement, leaving us to think for ourselves. Fantastic.

Alcatraz was my least favourite. I found it a bit confusing and not as strong as the other stories.

Why Won’t Women Just Say What They Want? is about apology. Was interesting to see the relation between the exes of a famous artist.

Anything Could Disappear was the most sad story in the collection. A woman is left with a young baby boy and she takes care of him so wonderfully. I loved it and I wish the ending was different, but, at the same time, I understand why it ended like that.

The Office of Historical Corrections is the novella. The premise is fascinating, I liked the idea of this “office for historical corrections” I would apply for a job there if such an institution was real. This story is powerful because one of the characters is a black woman who, theoretically, fights for the “truth” but disregards the reality on the ground. On the other side is a white supremacist who, funnily enough, fights for his “truth”, which, very similarly, has nothing in common with the reality on the ground. The main character is a lovely black woman who tries her best, while, at the same time, is dealing with some personal issues.

Overall the collection is very interesting and I think many would enjoy the stories.

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

Details about the picture: the cover for US and UK look different, this is a proof copy, hence without the official cover
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Picador
Year it was published: 2021
Format: Paperback (my copy)
Genre(s): Fiction
Pages: 270 (might differ)

About the author: Danielle Evans is the author of the short-story collection Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, winner of the PEN American Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Hurston-Wright Award, and the Paterson prize and a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 selection. Her work has appeared in magazines including The Paris Review, A Public Space, American Short Fiction, Callaloo, The Sewanee Review, and Phoebe, and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2008, 2010, 2017, and 2018, and in New Stories from the South. She teaches in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.
Website & Social Media Links: daniellevevans & Picador

*I was sent a copy of The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

11 thoughts on “The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans”

  • I was just looking at this book online today after reading an interview with Jesse Greengrass, where she mentioned it. It sounds very topical. I have added it to my TBR list. Like you, I lived in a big city, with a great mix of nationalities, it was a big cauldron of ethicities, and we were taught the racial equality as children at school.

  • Sounds like an interesting collection. When I was growing up in Scotland, there were very few non-white people living here, but we all managed to hate each other over religion instead, so I didn’t feel I was missing out! Now thankfully we’re a bit more diverse, so we can hate each other on race grounds too… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • I shouldn’t laugh, but your comment is hilarious. We humans are very resourceful and manage to find ideologies to hate each other for, no worries about that. :))

  • I enjoy short story collections and this sound rather intriguing. I’ll have to see what my options are for reading it. For what it’s worth, I’ve spent my entire life in the US South and always been around people of color.
    Kelly recently posted…Lawn Mower RaceMy Profile

    • I hope you’ll enjoy it, if you get it. I would be interested to read your views on the book. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • This sounds like an interesting collection of short stories on the theme of race, a subject that is certainly topical at the moment. To be honest I would normally have some reservations about buying a book on this subject as I don’t like being ‘preached’ to. But it does sound as though the author has done a good job of presenting her subject matter in a thoughtful, unbiased way that leaves readers to make up their own minds about the issues raised. So I will add this book to my list of titles to read in future. Thank you!
    Nick recently posted…Review: FI Money: Learn the Hard Way, Teach the Easy Way by Peter DuffyMy Profile

  • Oh Dear! I am almost frightened to speak out about this collection, without being vilified as being not PC. We live in Somerset, which has a large population of travellers. We do try not to have any dealings with them, but on the whole, if you are civil to them, they treat you with the same courtesy. There have been the obvious news reports about ‘Windrush’, but to be honest, down in the south of England, I too never really came across anyone of colour until I was in my teens. I can remember neighbours of ours who were trying to move house, taking it off the market when a coloured family came to view it, as they ‘couldn’t inflict it on the neighbours they were leaving behind’ Obviously that kind of behaviour would be totally unacceptable these days – thankfully! This sounds like a great collection of short stories and I see that Danielle also has a second collection of stories, which sounds just as good. Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Some of the things that seemed ok only 3-4 decades ago now are considered awful, which is great. I think you might enjoy this collection, she is a very gifted author.

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