Baking Cakes in Kigali – Gaile Parkin

Gaile Parkin you are a legend! I picked up Baking Cakes in Kigali in the most wonderful quaint shop in the Midlands Meander in February this year because the cover just grabbed me. I ended up reading it EVERYWHERE … hospital bench, waiting in the car, in bed at 04h30, while cooking, while waiting for my bath water to fill up!

Baking Cakes in Kigali follows the amazing baker Angel Tungaraza with her family in Rwanda. They move there from Tanzania after her children pass away and her and her husband take in their grandchildren and try to live a semblance of a normal life. Angel is bold, creative, sensitive, a mother hen and of course “a professional somebody” as she likes to refer to herself!

The book is set is 14 delicious chapters that delve into the lives of the people who come knocking on her door to place cake orders. Each order is detailed, with Angel wanting to know the character of the person she is preparing the cake for. In the midst of filling in an order form, a cup of spicy tea is never far away as Angel listens to the joys, the sorrows, the tears and the everydayness of her clients.
Living in a compound in Rwanda heavy with the aftermath of the genocide, this book also explores the scars left behind by tragedies on large scales and how a nation possibly dares to pick up the pieces. And how as individuals we manage to pick up the pieces of our own lives when they fall into shambles.
I laughed and I wept (yes, like a baby in a foetal position!) and I felt victorious at the end when inevitably the sheer strength of the human spirit prevails.
This is Parkin’s debut novel published in 2009 and I’m quite keen to get my grubby paws on her following novel When Hoopoes go to Heaven (2012). There’s a lovely 2012 interview by Gillian Anstey (@gilliananstey on Twitter) here http://bit.ly/1TP4ybl where she talks to Parkin about both novels. The article also hints at the fact that there might be a book three, about the Tungaraza family but settled in another country … Hhhhm … I’d also love to hear about that! Please can this be published soon if it hasn’t already!
– Babongile Z

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