Has a book ever made you long for home — only not your home, perhaps, but another’s. A stronger sense of identity? A feeling of culture, of connection, of deep community roots?
Black Cake did this for me — sucked me in like the unheeded hurricanes off the Island, ripping me down in its current. Rich, lyrical, beautiful, heartbreaking … Charmaine Wilkerson spins a multi-generational, multi-cultural saga like none I’ve read before.
What can I say? This novel has everything. Emotional resonance, complicated but relatable sibling and family relationships, deep love, heartbreaking separations, atmosphere and a sense of foreboding mingled with hope … I couldn’t get enough.
At the heart of the story is the titular dessert — a Caribbean black cake studded with soaked fruits, based on the author’s late mother’s recipe. But it’s not just about the food. As Wilkerson herself states, it centers around identity — innate and chosen. It was amazing to experience the transformations of each individual throughout the story.
And the water — it’s a character, too. Churning. Beckoning. At once welcoming and dangerous. Again and again, the Bennetts return to the ocean, and I found these slices of story deeply affecting. Perhaps because I’ve never learned to swim.
It’s been weeks now, and I’m afraid Black Cake has ruined me for other books. The audio was incredibly engrossing and well-done, with narrators Lynnette R. Freeman and Simone Mcintyre skillfully bringing the characters — their plights, joys, pains — to life.
Don’t miss it. Don’t sleep on it. Just run to this shoreline, friends, and dive in.