The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

The Office Of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

Cousins, one black, one white try to come to terms with their pasts and pains while on a tour of Alcatraz. A young woman recklessly escalates her public shaming for supporting white supremacy, believing herself to be the victim. A misogynistic narcissistic artist tries to make amends, while remaining a misogynistic narcissistic artist.

These are just a few of the premises from Danielle Evan’s novella and short story collection: The Office of Historical Corrections, a book that left me somewhat speechless but also unable to leave as I processed its impact on me. Each of the seven stories is written with gentle but clear honesty that allow black protagonists to experience race in America without being defined by it. In the titular novella, a black woman continually asks herself: “Do they know I’m a human yet?” whenever meeting a new white person, reflecting the common experience of people of color being overlooked in a world that values whiteness.

Evans doesn’t force her characters to be perfect, or give the reader reasons to love them despite their flaws. She paints their humanity plainly, their actions are the results of a past that cannot be changed and a future that is unknowable. The theme of learning from the past, and the desire to ignore a shameful history comes through in both the small scale of characters who try to outrun themselves, and the grand scale attempts to erase the history of American slavery and its aftershocks. The writing within this book somehow balances love and humor with characters and stories so dark that they could be in a season of Black Mirror. Winner of the Joyce Carol Oates Literary Prize 2021, The Office of Historical Corrections is a reflection on the choice between hiding from the past, or turning to face it, whatever the cost.

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

Published 2020 Riverhead Book

I read this as: a library book

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s