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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2021 Joyce Carol Oates Prize

Named a Best Book of 2020 by O Magazine, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Real Simple, The Guardian, and more

Finalist for: The Story Prize, The L.A. Times Book Prize, The Aspen Words Literary Prize, The Chautauqua Prize

“Sublime short stories of race, grief, and belonging ... an extraordinary new collection..." (The New Yorker)

“Evans’s new stories present rich plots reflecting on race relations, grief, and love...” (The New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice)

“Danielle Evans demonstrates, once again, that she is the finest short story writer working today.” (Roxane Gay, The New York Times best-selling author of Difficult Women and Bad Feminist)

The award-winning author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self brings her signature voice and insight to the subjects of race, grief, apology, and American history.

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, DC, is drawn into a complex historical mystery that spans generations and puts her job, her love life, and her oldest friendship at risk.

©2020 Danielle Evans (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about The Office of Historical Corrections

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blecch

Totally misled by the title and some of the blurbs that insinuated history was a theme of the stories. They just seem to be stories about damaged, unlikeable women who jump into bed with every man who gives them a second look.

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Makes you think...

Very thought provoking and insightful. I appreciate hearing about another side of a story that may not always make it to what the public might see and hear. Would definitely recommend.

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snore and bore

there's just nothing that truly stands out in this book, struggled to finish because the characters are all flat

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The only good thing was the narrators

Honestly, these just weren’t great stories. I felt like it was more pain bug certain ideologies rather than telling deep sores that speak for themselves and allow the readers to decide what it means and symbolizes. The story about the artist was particularly cringey.... it felt like the obligatory feminist story with flat characters and unrealistic occurrences. Just overall, not great literature. I’m not sure why it got so much attention.

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Wonderful!

SO WONDERFUL! A collection of short stories with unexpected twists and turns. The author did a great job of developing the main character while unwinding the plot. This tugged at my feelings both in a high and low way.

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Absolutely Incredible

This is easily the best short story collection I’ve ever read. I thought about every story for days after I finished each of them. Highly, highly recommend.

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red states meet blue in a fascinating mix

Anyone with a foot in the rural United States of America needs to read immediately. The closing novella is a haunting and fair portrait of Wisconsin—more accurate than most I have read. The short stories are the perfect length to read as audio—long enough to get lost in, and read beautifully. Can't wait to follow what will surely be a long career for this writer.

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  • .W
  • 12-18-20

It is hard to describe how excellent Evans is.

I felt the full spectrum of emotions. Then, at the end of the collection, I thought to myself, will I ever be able to design even one sentence as perfectly as the last five I just listened to in the entire span of my life? Likely not, but even if I just managed one at this level, I’d still be giddy about it.

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Important Read

I love a well written short story and these are all that! Important in their content and beautifully constructed.

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A great book

I would have loved to read a full length book of each of these short stories. Especially the books namesake.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Luce Briggi
  • 12-08-20

Striking collection

The Office of Historical Corrections is a striking collection of short stories, easily the best one to be published this year. Unlike many other collections—which tend to have a few forgettable or ‘weaker’ stories—The Office of Historical Corrections has only hits. There isn’t one story that bored me or wasn’t as good as the rest. This is truly a standout collection. If you happen to be a fan of authors such as Curtis Sittenfeld, Edwidge Danticat, and Brit Bennett you should definitely give The Office of Historical Corrections a shot.

This collection contains 6 short stories and 1 novella. Although each one of these has its own distinctive narrative, they do examine similar themes but they do so through different, and at times opposing, perspectives. With nuance and precision Evans navigates the realities of contemporary America, focusing in particular on the experiences of black people in a country that considers white to be the 'norm'.
There are so many things to love about this collection. Evans’ prose is superb. Her writing is incisive, evocative, and perfectly renders her characters and the diverse situations they are in without ever being overly descriptive or purply. While short stories and novellas are usually plot-driven, Evans’ narratives spouse a razor-sharp commentary—on race, modern culture, class—with compelling character-studies.

The scenarios and issues Evans explores are certainly topical. In ‘Boys Go to Jupiter’ a white college student, Claire, is labelled racist after her sort-of-boyfriend posts a photo of her wearing a Confederate bikini. Rather than apologising or even acknowledging what this flag truly symbolises Claire decides to make matters worse for herself by ridiculing a black student’s outrage at her bikini and by claiming that the flag is part of her heritage. As this controversy unfolds we learn of her childhood, of how she became close with two siblings who were for a time neighbours of hers, of her mother’s illness and eventual death, and of the part she played in her friend’s death. This story is very much about denial, culpability, and grief. It also brought to mind ‘White Women LOL’ by Sittenfeld and Rebecca Makkai's ‘Painted Ocean, Painted Ship’.
The titular novella instead follows two black women who have never been on easy terms. This is partly due to their different economic backgrounds and partly due to their different temperaments. Having lost touch after college they both end up working at the Institute for Public History where they are tasked with correcting historical inaccuracies/mistakes. Often their corrections raise awareness about America’s colonial and racist past in order to challenge white historical narratives. Given all discussions about decolonising the curriculum and about historical statues and monuments this novella definitely touches on some relevant topics. The revisions made by the Institute for Public History are often not well met and they are targeted by white ‘preservationists’. As our narrator unearths the true story behind a black shopkeeper’s death back in 1937 she unwillingly joins ‘forces’ with Genevieve, her longtime not-quite-friend. The two women have very different approaches and their search for the truth behind this man’s death soon sparks the anger of the white ‘preservationists’.
All of these stories are worth a read. My personal favourites where ‘Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain’, ‘Alcatraz’, ‘Why Won’t Women Just Say What They Want’ (which had some serious Kevin Wilson vibes), and ‘Anything Could Disappear’ (this almost had me in tears).

There are so many things to love about this collection: Evans’ focus on women and the thorny relationships they can have with one another, the wry humour that underlines these stories, Evans’ ability to capture diverse and nuanced emotions. The list goes on.

Evans’ stories are thought-provoking and populated by memorable and fully fleshed out characters. Although she exerts an admirable control over her language, her writing is arresting. Evans does not waste words and she truly packs a punch in this ‘infamous’ medium (short stories are often seen in terms of their limitations) .
Throughout this collection Evans’ touches themes of injustice, forgiveness, history (a character’s personal history as well as a nation’s history), freedom and identity, grief, loss, fear, failed relationships and human connection.
This is a fantastic collection and you should definitely give it a try.