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Danielle Evans Books In Order

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Publication Order of DanielleEvans Collections

Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Office of Historical Corrections (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

The Best American Short Stories 2017(2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2019(2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Danielle Evans
Danielle Evans is the author of the story collections “Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self” and “The Office of Historical Corrections”.

She received an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers Workshop. Danielle has previously taught creative writing at American University in Washington D. C. and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Danielle’s work has won honors and awards including the Hurston-Wright award for fiction the PEN American Robert W. Bingham Prize, and the Paterson Prize for fiction. She is a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts fellow and is a 2011 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree.

Her work has appeared in magazines including American Short Fiction, The Paris Review, A Public Space, Callaloo, Phoebe, The Sewanee Review, and has been anthologized in New Stories from the South and in The Best American Short Stories in 2008, 2010, 2017, and 2018.

Danielle finds that a lot of her interest as a writer is in the narrative and in the act of telling—the way that the stories we tell about certain events become their own distinct things. And a lot of her interest in history is about what we have no reliable records for. In her story “Alcatraz”, for example, part of what is at stake is the family’s distress that the official record says something that is untrue and painful.

Danielle believes that one pleasure of being a writer is that you’re able to go back into the moments in life that could have been more interesting, and then make it so, without needing to pay the price in lived experience. Most of her work begins with a “what if” or a “why”.

She hears about something or imagines a scenario, and she has no idea why somebody would behave that way, so she writes her way into an explanation. Or, she will think about some situation in which a kind of disaster or tension was avoided or was defused, and think about how it could have gone differently. Sometimes this means changing the whole dynamic of the situation so it happens to another person or so something invented in the character’s past makes them different enough as a person to make a different sort of choice.

Once, she cost herself close to two years of writing time when she tried forcing the novel to be something it didn’t actually want to be. For this reason, it’s important to go where the writing is taking you.

She didn’t realize it until after she had finished the first draft of the novella, Cassie (the protagonist of “The Office of Historical Corrections) was first developed as a character in a draft for a novel. In this version, she was an out-of-work historian that became a high school teacher and was supposed to be writing a history textbook. Turns out that person struggling to write a book that she is certain has important things to say about US history isn’t a super compelling plot line to anybody but Danielle.

When she turned up once again in the novella, it felt as though Danielle had instinctively solved that problem from her earlier work by making this thematic question an active one. As Cassie’s role in the present action of the novella is to be a detective, essentially.

“Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self” is the first short story collection that was released in the year 2010. This is an electric debut collection about young African-American and mixed-race teens, men, and women that struggle to find a place in their communities and their own families.

When Danielle’s short “Virgins” was published in The Paris Review late in 2007, it announced a bold new voice’s arrival. The story, which was written when she was just twenty-three, of two black, blue-collar fifteen year old girls’ flirtation with adulthood for a night was stunning in its pitch-perfect examination of class, race, and the shifting terrain of adolescence.

Now this debut collection delivers on the promise of that first story. In “Harvest”, one college student’s unplanned pregnancy forces her to confront her own feelings of inadequacy in comparison to her other white classmates. In “Snakes”, the mixed-race daughter of intellectuals recounts the disastrous summer that she spent with her white cousin and grandma, which was a summer that has some unforeseen repercussions in the present. And in “Jellyfish”, one dad’s misguided effort to rescue a gift for his grown daughter from an apartment collapse only magnifies all that he does not know about her.

The stories in this collection are all based in a world where inequality is reality. However where the insecurities of adolescence and young adulthood, and the tensions within the community and the family, are sometimes the largest complicating forces in one’s sense of identity and the decisions one makes.

“The Office of Historical Corrections” is the second short story collection that was released in the year 2020. Danielle’s widely acclaimed for her X-ray insights into complex human relationships and blisteringly smart voice. With “The Office of Historical Corrections, she zooms in on certain relationships and moments in her characters’ lives in a way that allows them to speak to bigger issues of history, race, and culture.

We meet Black and multi-racial characters that are experiencing the universal confusions of love and lust, as well as getting walloped by grief. All while exploring how history haunts each of us, collectively and personally. Ultimately, she provokes us to think about the truths of American history—about who gets to tell them, and the price of setting the record straight.

In “Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain” a photojournalist is forced to face her own losses as she attends an old friend’s unexpectedly dramatic wedding. In “Boys Go to Jupiter” one white college student attempts to reinvent herself after a picture of her in a Confederate flag bikini goes viral. And finally, in the eye-opening title novella, one Black scholar from Washington DC gets drawn into a complicated historical mystery which spans generations and puts her love life, her job, and her oldest friendship at risk.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Danielle Evans

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