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Ballantine Books

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson (Paperback)

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson (Paperback)

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Fiction - Family Life - Sagas - Coming of Age

Published: 11/29/2022

Two estranged siblings delve into their mother’s hidden past—and how it all connects to her traditional Caribbean black cake—in this immersive family saga, “a character-driven, multigenerational story that’s meant to be savored” (Time).

In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett's death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a traditional Caribbean black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking journey Eleanor unfolds, the secrets she still holds back, and the mystery of a long-lost child, challenge everything the siblings thought they knew about their family, and themselves.
Can Byron and Benny reclaim their once-close relationship, piece together Eleanor's true history, and fulfill her final request to “share the black cake when the time is right?” Will their mother's revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever? 

Charmaine Wilkerson's debut novel is a story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names, can shape relationships and history. Deeply evocative and beautifully written, Black Cake is an extraordinary journey through the life of a family changed forever by the choices of its matriarch.

Biographical Note:
Charmaine Wilkerson is an American writer who has lived in Jamaica and is based in Italy. A graduate of Barnard College and Stanford University, she is a former journalist whose award-winning short fiction has appeared in various magazines and anthologies. Black Cake is her first novel.

Review Quotes:
" Black Cake is a character-driven, multigenerational story that's meant to be savored. . . . Thought-provoking and poignant." --Time

"A thrilling debut novel about sibling ties and hidden family history." --Glamour

"As delicious as the titular dessert." --W Magazine

 "Wilkerson explores the nuances of racial identity and betrayal in a powerful novel." --Vogue (UK)

 Black Cake is a satisfying literary meal, heralding the arrival of a new novelist to watch." --Associated Press

 "A stellar first-time entry from a talented new writer that's full of food, surfing, and rich patois." --BET

"Crafted with delicate intention and textured with a blend of perspectives." -- Vulture

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