Book Buzz: Black Cake

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson.

FRUIT, RUM, SUGAR, spices — their mother Eleanor’s black cake is a family tradition that runs throughout Benny and Byron’s childhoods, tying them to their Caribbean heritage and to one another. When Eleanor passes away, she leaves her children one final black cake to share, along with a mysterious recorded message.

Though the siblings are estranged, they agree to sit down together and listen to their mother’s final words. But neither is prepared for the stories that spill forth, secrets kept locked away in Eleanor’s memory for decades.

Now Benny and Byron must reconcile the image they had always had of their mother with these unforeseen revelations and a version of their family story that upends everything they knew to be true. Evoking the rich warmth of the black cake for which it is named, this debut novel is a book to both savor and share.

(originally published in Bellingham Alive, May, 2022)