Baking Cakes in Kigali: Book summary and reviews of Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin

Baking Cakes in Kigali

by Gaile Parkin

Baking Cakes in Kigali
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2009
    320 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

Baking Cakes in Kigali is a tale in fourteen confections, and behind each cake lies a story. As baker Angel Tungaraza busies herself with her customers' orders, we learn about their lives: Ken Akimoto — with his penchant for partying, her best client — and Bosco, his lovesick driver; Dr. Rejoice, without whom she'd never cope with the hot flashes that send her delving into her brassiere for a handkerchief so often these days; Odile, an AIDS worker whose love life Angel has taken a keen interest in; and not forgetting young Leocadie, Modeste, and their baby boy, Beckham.

Angel works her magic, solving problems for all around her; and in turn, they help her lay her own demons to rest: perhaps she can finally face the truth about the loss of her own son and daughter, and achieve a sense of peace.

Hauntingly charming, funny, and involving, Baking Cakes in Kigali , set in Rwanda, is a novel about the real meaning of reconciliation - about how, in the aftermath of tragedy, life goes on and people still manage to find reasons to celebrate.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"With a lightness of touch, Gaile Parkin's Baking Cakes in Kigali deftly uncovers the joys (and there are many) and sorrows of the survivors. Fans of Precious Ramotswe from Alexander McCall Smith's Number One Ladies Detective Agency will adore this too." - The Daily Mail (U.K.)

"An irresistible story of laughter and hope .... Baking Cakes in Kigali is a charming and a beautifully written novel of life in a country recovering from terrible horrors." - The Bookseller (U.K.)

"Fluent and deeply moving, especially in its portrayal of women survivors." - The Independent (U.K.)

"Angel ... is the novel's towering achievement—along with the sense Parkin creates of a country riven by its past yet seeking repair.... Baking Cakes in Kigali makes you feel better about the world." - The Scotsman

"Born and raised in Zambia, Parkin offers a fascinating personal glimpse into a culture unfamiliar to most Americans, but better editing could have transformed her slightly stilted effort into a book to remember." - Kirkus Reviews

"In Parkin's eagerness to introduce a rainbow of cultures and personalities, she crowds her enjoyable but terminally dedicated heroine, forcing Angel to take a saccharine supporting role in her own story..." - Publishers Weekly

"This is a good choice for readers interested in the political and social life of African countries and fans of Alexander McCall Smith's "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series." - School Library Journal (Adult Books for High School Students)

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Reader Reviews

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Louise J

Totally Charming!
This was a funny, sad, heartwarming read. Angel Tungaraza bakes and decorates the most beautiful cakes. As each of her customers come to see her to ask her to bake one, she hands them her portfolio to look at while she makes them tea. Her best client is Ken Akimoto who regularly holds parties and loves karaoke and the people of the apartment building are usually invited, but those that aren’t never complain about the noise because at one time or another they have been invited.

Each person that comes to see Angel has some sort of problem that she helps them solve. She seems to have an air about her that makes her easily approachable and easy to talk to, however, at the same time, she comes to accept, in her own way, the deaths of both her own daughter and son.

Even amongst all these problems, terrible illnesses and death, it shows us that life does go on and people still find reasons to celebrate regardless of the hardships they’ve faced.

I would recommend this book to others.

Kathy B.

Baking cakes in Rwanda but so much more...
In a manner much like Alexander McCall Smith, Gaile Parkin gives vignettes of life in Africa (Rwanda). Angel bakes cakes to sell from her home; the stories revolve around her customers and deal with AIDS, frustrations with societal moires, marital conflict, and women's issues. The stories are compelling and the advice which Angel gives is always sound. Do not miss this wonderful slice of life in Rwanda. It shows warmth and hope in the context of the remnants of the terrible genocide of 1994. It left me smiling through my tears.

Linda K. (Belvidere, IL)

There's More To A Cake Than Flour And Water
The main character, Angel, bakes cakes. Her cakes are far more than an edible pastry. Each cake she bakes celebrates an occasion that is laced with sadness and despair, as no one has gone untouched by the horrors of genocide Rwanda lived through. If that was not enough, Africa has been haunted further by the impact of the AIDS epidemic. Despite these conditions, Angel brings hope and healing with every cake she bakes. This is a book that cannot be put aside. It begs to be read, just as Angel’s cakes beg to be eaten. I’ll be looking forward to the next “slice” Gail Parkin cooks up!

Eileen L. (Danvers, MA)

Draws you in and does not let go
Baking Cakes in Kigali is a long winding road of a book. Centered around Angel, a baker of specialty cakes, you are immediately drawn into her world. Her strength, her sense of family, and her willingness to listen and learn endear her to the reader almost immediately. While the hardship in her life, and lives of those around her, is obvious, you get the sense that life, to Angel, holds endless possibility and undiscovered joy. This book is truly a journey, and one well worth taking. You really just want it to go on and on.

Katherine W. (El Sobrante, CA)

When it comes to writing books Gaile Parkin is a very impressive Somebody!
"Baking Cakes in Kigale", a first novel by Gaile Parkin, Takes place in Rwanda some years after the civil war. Each chapter is titled after an occasion for which the main character, Angel Tungaraza, has been hired to bake one of her famous cakes. In getting to know the people for whom she is creating her confectionery masterpieces, Angel learns the stories of their lives, some tragic, some full of humor. This is one of those special books that keeps you fully engaged while at the same time infusing the story with an important political message. It bears witness to the terrible tragedies of AIDS, genocide, malaria, poverty and government corruption, and all the while manages to be heartwarming and full of joie de vivre.

Barbara B. (Alta Loma, CA)

Baking Cakes in Kigali
I love to bake and I love to eat cake and I love learning and reading stories about Africa, so I knew Baking Cakes in Kigali had to be a recipe for a great read and I was not disappointed.

All of the characters were delightful and I enjoyed the way Angel, the cake baker, engaged her customers to tell their stories over a cup of tea and a cupcake. The fact that these stories were based on real stories made the book especially interesting. It is hard to read about genocide and poverty, but Parkin's characters overcame their tragedies.

Angel, is middle aged and she dealt with issues many people deal with such as raising grandchildren, the change & even AIDS. I was wishing recipes had been at the end of the book. I was hungry for cake!

...14 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Gaile Parkin Author Biography

Gaile Parkin was born and raised in Zambia, and studied at universities in South Africa and England. She has lived in many different parts of Africa, including Rwanda, where Baking Cakes in Kigali is set. She is currently a freelance consultant in the fields of education, gender, and HIV/AIDS.

Her second novel, When Hoopoes Go To Heaven", will publish in the UK in Feb 2012.

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