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Baking Cakes in Kigali (2009)

by Gaile Parkin

Series: Tungaraza Family (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7217924,291 (3.87)118
This is a novel in 14 irresistible confections, and behind each cake lies a story. As Angel helps her customers to work through their problems, they, in turn, help her to lay to rest the demons she has buried deep inside until, finally, she is able to face the truth and to achieve a sense of peace.
  1. 30
    The No. 1 Ladiesʼ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (elbakerone)
    elbakerone: Although they take place in different African countries (Smith's Botswana and Parkin's Rwanda), both books have a similar flavor with the leading ladies helping out their neighbors. Throughout their respective stories, each book reveals a bit about the culture and daily life of the country where it takes place.… (more)
  2. 10
    The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama (infiniteletters)
  3. 00
    The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (krazy4katz)
    krazy4katz: The lives of 3 people in Sierra Leone intersect after the end of the civil war. The traumas of war, its effect on love, compassion and one's ability to heal oneself are beautifully described.
  4. 00
    The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez (infiniteletters)
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» See also 118 mentions

English (74)  German (3)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
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 recent fiction: Angel Tungaraza—mother, cake baker, keeper of secrets—a woman living on the edge of chaos, finding ways to transform lives, weave magic, and create hope amid the madness swirling all around her.

In Kigali, Angel runs a bustling business: baking cakes for all occasions—cakes filled with vibrant color, buttery richness, and, most of all, a sense of hope only Angel can deliver.…A CIA agent’s wife seeks the perfect holiday cake but walks away with something far sweeter…a former boy-soldier orders an engagement cake, then, between sips of tea, shares an enthralling story…weary human rights workers…lovesick limo drivers. Amid this cacophony of native tongues, love affairs, and confessions, Angel’s kitchen is an oasis where people tell their secrets, where hope abounds and help awaits.

In this unlikely place, in the heart of Rwanda, unexpected things are beginning to happen
  CarolBurrows | Mar 9, 2021 |
An hopeful story of a baker and her friends, neighbors and customers in post-genocide Rwanda. ( )
  baruthcook | Aug 26, 2020 |
Respected as a skilled baker in her new Rwandan community, Angel Tungaraza also acts as a voice of reason and likes to solve her customer's problems whether they ask for her help or not (think of a bartender or hair dresser; someone who can listen to one's woes and offer advice for the sheer sake of chitchat). Drawing from her life in Tanzania, she manages to help her friends and neighbors in unique ways. Angel isn't without her faults, though. She protects her reputation fiercely and can come across as snobbish when she doesn't approve of the cake someone else has baked or designed. If the customer chooses colors and styles that are "boring" in Angel's opinion she secretly scoffs at them. She also carries a secret shame; one that she cannot even admit to herself.
Throughout Baking Cakes in Kigali I was comparing Angela to Angela Lansbury in "Murder, She Wrote." Only instead of murders, Angel Tungaraza muddles her way through issues such as adultery, ritual cutting, equal rights for women, and racial prejudices; tackling the aftershocks of societal catastrophes such as AIDS and the Rwandan genocide. ( )
  SeriousGrace | May 7, 2020 |
At first glance a book that examines Rwandan genocide and the AIDS crisis would hardly seem to be an enjoyable and entertaining read yet this novel deals with these topics and so much more. Angel is a well respected cake baker who dispenses sage advice and beautiful cakes for all occasions. Additionally Angel is the primary care taker for her 5 grandchildren. Angel deals with the difficulties in her life with a gentle spirit and a positive outlook ( )
  cdyankeefan | Aug 26, 2018 |
A bit twee for my taste. But if you like The No. 1 Detective Agency I think you will like this. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
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In the same way that a bucket of water reduces a cooking fire to ashes-a few splutters of shocked disbelief, a hiss of anger, and then a chill all the more penetrating for having so abruptly supplanted intense heat-in just that way, the photograph that she now surveyed extinguished all her excitement.
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This is a novel in 14 irresistible confections, and behind each cake lies a story. As Angel helps her customers to work through their problems, they, in turn, help her to lay to rest the demons she has buried deep inside until, finally, she is able to face the truth and to achieve a sense of peace.

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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 Kilgali is just such a novel. This gloriously written tale--set in modern-day Rwanda--introduces one of the most singular and engaging characters in recent fiction: Angel Tungaraza--mother, cake baker, keeper of secrets--a woman living on the edge of chaos, finding ways to transform lives, weave magic, and create hope amid the madness swirling all around her.

In Kigali, Angel runs a bustling business: baking cakes for all occasions--cakes filled with vibrant color, buttery richness, and, most of all, a sense of hope only Angel can deliver....A CIA agent's wife seeks the perfect holiday cake but walks away with something far sweeter...a former boy-soldier orders an engagement cake, then, between sips of tea, shares an enthralling story...weary human rights workers...lovesick limo drivers. Amid this cacophony of native tongues, love affairs, and confessions, Angel's kitchen is an oasis where people tell their secrets, where hope abounds and help awaits.

In this unlikely place, in the heart of Rwanda, unexpected things are beginning to happen: A most unusual wedding is planned...a heartbreaking mystery--involving Angel's own family--unravels...and extraordinary connections are being made among the men and women who have tasted Angel's beautiful cakes...as a chain of events unfolds that will change Angel's life--and the lives of those around her--in the most astonishing ways.
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