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 in The Office of Historical Corrections. We spoke with author Danielle Evans about the inspiration for The Office of Historical Corrections, her favorite indie bookstores in Baltimore, and more!
“I have been holding my breath for Danielle Evans’ next book of short stories since Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, and The Office of Historical Corrections was worth the wait. She delivers the same great storytelling, insight, and sharp cultural commentary. Her touch on themes usually associated with older people, such as redemption, reconciliation, and propitiation, moved me. I read the whole collection in two days.”Miesha Headen, Loganberry Books
Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.
I knew I was working toward a book, and not just a series of stories, once I’d written about half of them. I realized at that point that the recurring questions of the book were about history—personal, national, and familial—about the ways that the stories we tell about the past become declarations about who we are, and about the stakes and cost of attempting to correct the record.
Once I knew what the book was about, I was able to write the novella that frames the overarching question most directly. This book was also written out of a lot of grief, and in revising I could see that its emotional landscape is very much shaped by that—a lot of the stories ask what kind of joy is possible in a crisis, or in the face of an uncertain future, or think about the way joy can, strangely, at times be at odds with the difficult work of hope.
In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise Libro.fm listeners about your audiobook?
As a collection, this book is more thematically linked than my first book, but the work itself is more divergent—a little stranger, sometimes setting up a familiar kind of story and then gradually and deliberately eroding it, sometimes moving beyond realism to do so.
Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?
I haven’t had the chance yet, but am very excited to hear it once it’s released. I’m looking forward to seeing what such a talented cast of actors does with the differences in voice and tone.
What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?
I love—in normal times—independent bookstores where you can settle in at a table or in the cafe and feel like you’re writing among friends. But more importantly, I think they can be such a wonderful “third space”—a meeting place, and event space, and a source of community. In Baltimore, I love Bird in Hand, Red Emma’s, and Greedy Reads.
Header photo by Beowulf Sheehan