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Baking Cakes in Kigali (Bakery #1)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  5,038 Ratings  ·  962 Reviews
Once in a great while a debut novelist comes along who dazzles us with rare eloquence and humanity, who takes us to bold new places and into previously unimaginable lives. Gaile Parkin is just such a talent—and Baking Cakes in Kigali is just such a novel. This gloriously written tale—set in modern-day Rwanda—introduces one of the most singular and engaging characters in re ...more
Hardcover, 361 pages
Published August 18th 2009 by Delacorte Press (first published 2009)
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Schuyler
Oct 29, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the latest selection for our book group at the book store where I work. I led the group this month, so obviously, I had to read the book. Well, it wasn't terrible but it was pretty bad.

This is a debut from Parkin, who grew up in South Africa and has done lots of volunteer type work, teaching, and other good stuff. But a fiction writer she is not. The story centers around Angel, the resident cake baker for this UN type compound in Kigali, Rwanda. Various characters come to her to order ca
...more
Richard Derus
Dec 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Rating: 3.5* of five

2016 Comment: I can't figure people out...this book is a pleasure to read, offers revealing and touching and amusing comments on the reality of growing older in an era of chaotic change that I can't imagine NOT being of interest to a very wide readership and yet..nothing! It's a lovely story. Seek one out, give it a try, this is good stuff here.

The Publisher Says: Once in a great while a debut novelist comes along who dazzles us with rare eloquence and humanity, who takes us
...more
Andrea
Angel and her family have temporarily relocated from Tanzania to Rwanda. While her husband works for the local university, Angel spends her time running her successful celebratory cake business. Her customers include her lovely friends, neighbours and the odd (and I mean odd) new client who comes her way. If this book is any indication, Rwandans really love their cakes! But Angel isn't just a master baker and decorator; she is also the 'Auntie' whom everyone comes to for advice. And she dishes i ...more
Corinne Edwards
This beautiful African story, set in post-genocide Rwanda, is not only compellingly and simply told - but also touches on much of what makes us truly happy in life.

Angel is a Tanzanian living in Rwanda with her husband and the five grandchildren she's raising. Her claim to fame in the town of Kigali is her extraordinary and unique cakes. The process of designing the perfect cake for her customers lets her into their lives - they share their stories. Through these stories we see in many people a
...more
Nabse Bamato
This was one of the most irritating books I have ever read. Alexander McCall Smith is a comparable and close second, so if you like him, you'll probably like this too.

I think my problem is that I don't know who this book is aimed at. What is clear, is that whoever the intended audience is, it doesn't include me. The trick of having a Tanzanian living in Rwanda, and explaining things through her eyes (although still in the third person) could have been used to great effect. Instead, the insider-o
...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I smell book series.

Yet another white person who grew up in Africa tries to cram themselves into the Africans' skin and lives, and "tell it like it is". Only of course, it can't be. Not really. The author obviously believes she has the "insider's view" and yet by her own admission, the people do keep themselves separate even while living side-by-side. All of the white people are depicted as untrustworthy, grasping, immodest, or downright thieves--oh, except for the "volunteers." They're OK. (The
...more
Nicolette
Dec 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
MY INTERVIEW WITH GAILE PARKIN

Happiness after the tears
Rwandans are finding joy at last

By NICOLETTE SCROOBY

BORN in Kitwe, Zambia, Gaile Parkin , 51, studied at Rhodes University and taught English at the Fort Hare campus in Alice in the 80s. Baking Cakes in Kigali is her debut novel.

Question: Where do you write?

Answer: On whatever surface there is wherever I happen to be living. Right now, it’s the kitchen counter-top in the flat I’m renting in Joburg.

Q: Best time of day to write?

Early morning –
...more
Christine
Oct 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I started out not liking this book. I thought the author had a checklist of issues she wanted to cover and was stuffing them into this short novel. But as I read I came to love this book. Her message is hope, its done simply and with grace. She delivers it through a woman named Angel who bakes cakes. People come to Angel with their need for a cake and reasons to celebrate. This is a book about survivors whether it is from the horrific genocide that devastated Rwanda in the mid 90s or AIDS. Its a ...more
Irene
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Can I just say I really loved this book!? Great characters, funny, sweet taste in my mouth after reading this and no it is no Mma Ramotswe but in the in-between it will definitely do.
Autumn
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book is a loosely woven amalgam of anecdotes about the lives of a group of people who come into the life of the protagonist, Angel. She happens to be the premier cake maker in Kiagali, a city in Rwanda; she is also somewhat of a sounding board and mother hen to all she encounters.

This book started out as a three-star kind of book for me. Although it is fairly light in tone, the protagonist is appealing--what grandmother of five who takes in her grandchildren after her own children die would
...more
Lauraadriana
This book was a face to face book club pick...I live in Africa and so we usually pick Africa themed books...this was a special book. The main character Angel very slightly reminded me of Precious Ramotswe, but this book dealt with a lot heavier things.

Angel is a Tanzanian living in Kigali, in a Rwanda on it's way out of the aftermath of the genocide this is swirling around in the background as she goes about her life, she's a baker how bakes cakes for the community (something I do too so loved t
...more
Christine
Jul 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
This was a book I got for free in one of the giveaways. It was an amazingly well written book. I loved the main character and it was very interesting to see how she very subtly empowered the younger women and girls around her. The story takes place in Rwanda in the city of Kigali. Angel is an excellent baker of cakes and through her client's stories the author discusses the genocide in Rwanda, the AIDS epidemic in Africa, female genital mutilation and many more very serious topics in a way that ...more
Book Concierge
Angel Tungaraza is living with her husband and grandchildren in a compound in Kigali, Rwanda, where she had a cake-making business she operates out of the family’s apartment kitchen. Angel is frequently privy to her customer’s secrets, and as a “professional somebody,” she know that she must keep these confidences. But there’s nothing to say that she cannot act to try to help her customers as they negotiate the pitfalls of life, and celebrate the joys of living.

This is a delightful debut novel.
...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
I ostensibly got this book for a reading challenge, but I would have wanted to read it anyway - who could resist a gorgeous cover like that?! What's even better is that I absolutely loved this book, and it's going straight to my Favourites list.

Angel Tungaraza is a native of Tanzania who moved to Rwanda with her husband, Pius, when he got a contract to work at KIST (the Kigali Institute of Science & Technology), helping get the country back on its feet after the genocide. It's the year 2000
...more
Rachelfm
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
I thought that this book was an accessible, sensitive treatment of modern life in Africa. The story of a Tanzanian family touched by tragedy who relocates to Rwanda manages to address a whole host of present-day issues: HIV/AIDS, FGM, foreign aid, reconciliation, religious, cultural, and economic differences, empowerment of women, effects of colonialism, etc. etc. The constant are the cakes created by the innovative and wise protagonist, Angel, and the way her role in the community draws out the ...more
Janice
My first impression of this book was that the writing was quite simple. As I read further, realized that it was deceptively simple. It was written in the voice of the protagonist, Angel.

The setting of the book is a compound of international people living in Kigali, helping it rebuild after the 1994 genocide. Angel (appropriately named) bakes and decorates cakes for her friends and customers. Throughout the book, their individual stories are revealed.

I noticed early on that many of the members o
...more
Krista
Oct 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013, africa
Set in post-Genocide Rwanda, Baking Cakes in Kigali focuses on Angel Tungaraza, the wife of a visiting professor at the Kingali Institute of Science and Technology. The Tungarazas are from neighbouring Tanzania and have taken the foreign posting in order to afford the care of the five grandchildren they took in when the youngters' parents died (view spoiler) ...more
Aarti
Aug 17, 2009 rated it liked it
I don't quite know what to make of this book. It has a really beautiful theme of celebrating small victories after surviving horrible situations. It also does a brilliant job of describing the AIDS crisis in Africa in a very moving way. The author, Gaile Parkin, does not throw statistics in your face. Rather, she quietly describes how people in Africa- everyone in Africa- is affected by AIDS, even in just the tiniest of ways. Almost every character in the book has a family member with AIDS, and ...more
Maya Panika
May 22, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So Gaile Parkin has lived in Africa, she knows it really well! OK, I get that, I really do, I couldn’t escape it after having had it hammered at me for page after page after dreadful-dreary page.

I’ve never lived in Africa but I’d imagine real Africans don’t keep a running dialogue of the many details of their daily lives both in their own heads and with everyone they meet. Real people don’t make mental notes about the bins and the shops and the dusty streets or the way people regard a cake or t
...more
Paula
I'm so glad I won this through Library Thing's member share, because I might not have known about it otherwise.

This is a truly terrific and unusual book. The author uses a narrative structure of a woman taking orders for cakes as a device to tell real stories about the people of Rwanda post-genocide. The writing is superb. The stories are sometimes inspirational, sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes terrifying and sometimes hilarious, but always a page-turner. I would recommend this book to anyo
...more
Debbie Moffett
Aug 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
I loved the way the author wove together the issues of the African people, the stories behind the cakes she baked, and energy she put into helping the people around her feel hopeful and whole, despite the sadness she had experienced. When Angel cleaned her glasses or made tea, you knew to expect a thoughtful conversation between the characters. I could visualize the characters and the cakes and feel the comfort she offered her guests when she served them. Having been to Kenya on a mission trip, ...more
Samantha
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
A heart-warming story of friendship, community, and reconciliation.
A charming Tanzanian baker offers a friendly ear and warm advice to an assortment of friends and customers in her Rwandan neighbourhood. Colorful descriptions of her creative cake designs contrast the heart-breaking stories of individuals affected by civil genocide.
Dale Dixon
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How could anyone not enjoy this book? The cover is just beautiful and colourful and it made me feel so happy just looking at it. The real strength of this book however is in the stories that are told. Set in the years just after the Rwandan Genocide and with the common theme of cakes, stories of love, hope, unlikely friendships and survival emerge between an unlikely set of people. The characters are warm and honest and the stories are sometimes challenging, but always heartwarming. They're chal ...more
Lesley
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook, culture
This book seems people either really like or really don't like. I listened to the audio book and really enjoyed the narrator of this story. Angel was full of wisdom for all that needed her!
Zizeloni
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a feel-good book taking place in Rwanda. Angel is an older woman living in an international compound (where expats live) and makes cakes. every chapter is another cake. It took some time to finish because there is no plot. You just learn a little more about Rwanda and Africa in each chapter. I learned a lot of things and I liked this book. But I have to say the book does not create any emotions even when it talk about the killings during the genocide or AIDS. It is just a pleasant book ...more
Muikku
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nzuri sana, asante sana Gaile Parkin!
Alycia
Oct 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Definitely trying to ride on the coattails of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.
I learned more about Rwanda, which is always a plus but overall the book was just okay. Definitely has a "aren't Africans clever?!?!" feel to it and seeing that the author is an Anglo African, that was painful.
There should have been at least one cake recipe.
I will read the sequel for sure but not expect much.
Anne
Must. Eat. Cake. Now.

Yes, this book is no masterpiece. Doesn't mean it can't be enjoyable to read! It's a nice feel-good 'story', which mostly consists of a chronological line of anecdotes. Lots of happy endings, lots of cake and tea. One of those books to really snuggle up with under a blankie. While eating cake.

With the story being set in post-genocide Rwanda, it can't all be fluffy of course. Every happy ending is preceded by a horrible story involving sickness, murder and/or mutilation. It
...more
Stephanie
Sep 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
For the first few pages of this book, I thought it was an homage to Precious Ramotswe and the No. 1 Detective Ladies' Agency series. That was not so bad; I love those books, am charmed by their simplicity and tenderness. But Parkin has something else in mind. This is a story about Rwanda after the genocide, and though it centers on a baker of cakes, a humble woman performing a humble job, interacting with her neighbors, making new friends, uncovering secrets...it is a simple, tender story set in ...more
Lindsay
Jul 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Lindsay by: Goodreads First Reads
I was once a devoted follower of "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series. I enjoyed the lighthearted mystery and the chance to catch a glimpse of a different culture through the eyes of endearing characters, but I have not picked up the last two books because I have found them a bit repetitive and formulaic. "Baking Cakes in Kigali" in some ways felt like the beloved McCall Smith series, but with fresh faces and deeper stories. Angel Tungararza, a cake maker from Tanzania, moves with her husb ...more
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Born and raised in Zambia, Gaile Parkin has lived and worked in many African countries. Her first job was in a Soweto still simmering from the violent uprising of the school students who had begun to loosen apartheid's control of the education system in South Africa. More recently she has worked in Rwanda, counselling women and girls who had survived the genocide. A published author of numerous sc ...more
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“What treasures lay inside! Yes, here were the colors that she had asked for: red, pink, yellow, blue, green, black- all in powder form, of course, not like the one or two bottles of liquid food color that were available at the Lebanese supermarket in town; those were not at all modern- some big blocks of marzipan, and, as always, June had included some new things for Angel to try. This time there were three tubes that looked rather like thick pens. She picked one upend examined it: written along its length were the words 'Gateau Graffito,' and underneath, written in uppercase letters, was the word 'red.' Reaching for the other two pens- one marked 'green' and the other 'black'- she saw a small printed sheet lying at the bottom of the bubblewrap nest. It explained that these pens were filled with food color, and offered a picture showing how they could be used to write fine lines or thick lines, depending on how you held them. It also guaranteed that the contents were kosher. Eh, now her cakes were going to be more beautiful than ever!” 1 likes
“The cakes were unanimously declared to be extremely delicious, and there was discussion about which type of icing would be more popular. Finally, agreement was reached that, while some adults might prefer the glace icing, children would probably prefer the butter icing- and that Therese could probably charge more for a cake with butter icing on it because it made the cake look a bit bigger.” 0 likes
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