THE INSTANT NO. 2 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
**Featured on Barack Obama's Summer Reading List 2022**
**A Grazia Instagram 'IT' book to watch out for**
Everyone wants to discover what they're made of . . . Juggling lives and crossing continents, BLACK CAKE is the extraordinary story of how the inheritance of secrets, betrayal and memories can shape a family for generations
'A story as meaningful as it is delicious. At turns delightfully juicy and then stunningly wise, Black Cake is a winner' TAYLOR JENKINS REID
'A roiling soup of family secrets, big lies, great loves, bright colours and strong smells' NEW YORK TIMES
'The scenes are so well drawn I could almost taste the cake. My heart broke and was put back together. Bravo' NIKKI MAY, author of Wahala
Eleanor Bennett won't let her own death get in the way of the truth. So when her estranged children - Byron and Benny - reunite for her funeral in California, they discover a puzzling inheritance.
First, a voice recording in which everything Byron and Benny ever knew about their family is upended. Their mother narrates a tumultuous story about a headstrong young woman who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder, a story which cuts right to the heart of the rift that's separated Byron and Benny.
Second, a traditional Caribbean black cake made from a family recipe that Eleanor hopes will heal the wounds of the past.
Can Byron and Benny fulfil their mother's final request to 'share the black cake when the time is right'?
Or will Eleanor's revelations leave them feeling more lost than ever?
**Soon to be a major drama series for Hulu by Oprah Winfrey, Aaron Kaplan and Marissa Jo Cerar**
'I loved the brilliant writing, the characters and the clever and beautiful way the story melded together. A stunning book' PRIMA, 'BOOK OF THE MONTH'
'A special, beautifully written novel that's as rich and intoxicating as the Jamaican rum cake of its title' GOOD HOUSEKEEPING
'I [. . .] was immediately drawn in' BONNIE GARMUS, bestselling author of LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY
'A heartfelt story of loss, lies and reconciliation' DAILY MAIL
'A sparkling debut, which examines migration, estrangement and the stories we tell about ourselves' METRO
'An extremely assured debut which pulls in threads and echoes from across the Caribbean diaspora to deliver a rich, complex and really satisfying novel' ALISON FINCH, BBC Radio 4
'I was instantly taken in by this multi-generational tale of identity, family, and the lifelong push and pull of home. This novel has a tremendous heart at its centre, and I felt its beat on every page. What an extraordinary debut' MARY BETH KEANE, author of Ask Again, Yes
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Charmaine Wilkerson’s buzzy debut novel is a remarkable story about family and love. When their mother Eleanor dies, her two estranged children are brought together to listen to her for the final time on an audio recording. Benny and Byron’s inheritance proves to be untold stories—stories that profoundly change their understanding of their mother, her past, and even the shape of their own lives. Wilkerson deftly weaves together different timelines and characters’ lives, exploring topics such as violence, secrets, sacrifice and prejudice as the stories unfold in the Caribbean, London and the US. In the process, the novel asks questions and teases answers out of the different stories. How much are we shaped by our past, by circumstances and by opportunity? And how much of our stories do we define ourselves? What does that mean about who we are? Blending the personal and the universal, Black Cake is ultimately a lyrical, thought-provoking exploration of the things that break us, but also the things that hold us together.
Wilkerson debuts with a shining family saga that stretches from the 1960s Caribbean to present-day Southern California. After septuagenarian Eleanor Bennett dies, her lawyer plays a lengthy message she has recorded for her children Byron and Benny. The siblings have made for uneasy company with each other since a rift grew between them Byron, the oldest, is laser-focused on his career, while his sister Benny is drifting. They knew their mother as a stern presence and an accomplished swimmer from somewhere in the Caribbean (who was also known to bake a rum and port soaked "black cake" from an old family recipe), but neither is prepared for what they learn from the recording. Eleanor is in fact Coventina "Covey" Lyncook, who was married off to a gangster named Little Man in 1965 by her debt-ridden father. At the wedding, Little Man drops dead, poisoned. Covey runs from the scene and, knowing she will be suspected of murder, swims away from the island. At first shocked by the revelations, Byron and Benny reconcile, and their mother's instructions to share a black cake she'd left in the freezer "when the time is right" take on great poignancy. Wilkerson offers superb descriptions of Covey's homeland, from the tension between those who speak patois and those who believe in the superiority of standard English, to sensual descriptions of food, surfing, and coastal terrain. Readers will adore this highly accomplished effort from a talented new writer. Agent: Madeleine Milburn, Madeleine Milburn Literary.