Danielle Evans’ new novella and collection of stories reads like a prescient letter from a brutally honest friend with her finger on the pulse of an ailing culture. Each story bristles with the author’s signature wit and precision. Her narrators engage in a constant struggle to be seen as “real people” despite possessing many trappings of privilege. In “Happily Ever After” a woman dresses with care before a hospital consult so that she may resemble “a person whose mother deserved to live.” In the titular novella, set in a federal office where the overeducated and underemployed grapple with facts in a post-truth society, Evans moves readers from D.C. to rural Wisconsin, where what begins as a wry take on bureaucracy quickens into a rivalry evocative of the best Harlem renaissance noir.
Evans’ work belongs on every contemporary American fiction syllabus, and with The Office of Historical Corrections, readers now have a wealth of selections to choose from. Those excited about writers who tell the truth about Black women’s lives should not let the “fiction” label deter them. These stories are as real as it gets.
By Laurie Cedilnik
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