This year, Charmaine Wilkerson has released her extraordinary debut novel – Black Cake – that is set to be one of the breakout novels of the year. Here, we review the novel and give our thoughts.
For any lovers of family-centric novels, like The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, comes Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson – the phenomenal new debut novel that is as propulsive as it is touching and moving.
When their mother Eleanor dies, estranged siblings Byron and Benny reunite for her funeral in California. Once there, they are given a strange inheritance – an eight hour voice recording in which Eleanor narrates her extraordinary family history, alongside a traditional Caribbean black cake. Across the length of the voice recording, Eleanor narrates a tumultuous story about a headstrong young woman who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder – finding a life in England eventually. The story is full of revelations for the siblings, making them question their relationship with their mother and their own heritage.
Black Cake is an extraordinary story, showcasing a lyrical and thoughtful writer, who characterises her protagonists with amazing sensitivity, dealing with broad issues from race to motherhood, the environment and family ties. It is without a doubt one of the most extraordinary novels of the year, positioning Wilkerson as an exciting new voice in the cultural zeitgeist.