Baking Cakes in Kigali

Baking Cakes in Kigali

by Gaile Parkin
4.0 23

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Baking Cakes in Kigali 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
tarheelreaderbl More than 1 year ago
Baking Cakes in Kigali is a stunning first novel, and I can't wait to read more from Gaile Parkin! A lovely story of family and reconciliation following the atrocities in Rwanda, Baking Cakes in Kigali addresses those horrors as well as the AIDS epidemic in Africa. At the same time, the love and wisdom of friends, family, and neighbors provide a wonderful backdrop for learning of African customs. Very reminiscent of the Mma Ramotswe books by Alexander McCall Smith. If you've enjoyed those, you'll love this as well.
huckfinn37 More than 1 year ago
I loved Baking Cakes in Kigali. I was drawn to the book because I love to bake and it was wonderful to see that cakes can help with problems and bring people together. I liked learning about Rwanda; I wasn't aware of all the suffering and the AIDS epidemic there. Baking Cakes in Kigali is an uplifting bookm with good characters. Angel reminded me of Mme. R in the Alexander MCCall books. I would highly recommend this book.
Plume_de_nom More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was allegorical, humorous, and had a sense of hope, similar to the silver lining in the movie Hotel Rwanda. A great debut novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had read this for my African Studies class and I can honestly say that it is one of the better books that I have read for school. It takes a couple of chapters to get into, but after that it is draws you in. There is humor, tragedy, and romance that blends together for a fun read. I recommend this book.
TeacherCunningham More than 1 year ago
This story and the characters Parkin creates will grab your heart. You hear about the unspeakable dark things in the lives of Rwandans and nearby neighbors, but their stories are told during a time of hope and celebration - they are each ordering a cake! The reader has to think about the effect of AIDS, genocide, racism, and more facing these Africans, but we also get to see the process that some have gone through to keep on going, to forgive, to begin to heal. This is such a wonderful story, told so beautifully, that I think it should be essential reading for high-school age students and adults.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Angel and Pius Tungararza move from Tanzania to Kigali, Rwanda as he has accepted a position at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology. Angel becomes renowned for her cake baking and her nurturing as she raises her five grandchildren although she still grieves the deaths of her adult children. Her Rwandan neighbors see her as a fellow African not tainted by the genocide; besides she is intelligent and caring. As Angel sells her cakes to them, her visitors ask for her advice on a myriad of subjects. Over tea, she provides her new friends and customers with sage assistance for free. Pius will remind readers of Precious Ramotswe (see No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith) although she is not a detective; she helps her clients cope with their personal issues. Ironically, her clients are never developed beyond representing a complex ugly issue that they face to include the genocide, AIDs, abject poverty, official corruption, and homeless parentless children, etc. Yet with all the darkness attached to a country whose most famous accomplishment in the last century was the genocide, there is a sense of renewal and optimism. Harriet Klausner
gl More than 1 year ago
Angel and her husband Pius Tungaraza and their five grandchildren came to Rwanda by way of their home country Tanzania. Pius works as a special consultant at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology; Angel has a thriving business as a cake designer and baker of unparalleled cakes. They live in a modern apartment building, largely populated by fellow expats. Among their neighbors is one of Angel's best customers, the generous Japanese American Ken Akimoto. Not only does Ken regularly order cakes at expat ("Wazungu") prices, but Ken's Pajero and driver Bosco are available to Angel and other neighbors without fail. The building also houses the Wazunga feminists Sophie and Catherine who work as volunteers teaching women and young girls English and skills. The other neighbors work at aid agencies and non-governmental organizations, as doctors, and one is rumored to work for the CIA. No matter where they work, whether they are Wazungu or fellow African or local Rwandan, it seems as though they all share the need to celebrate and do so through Angel Tungaraza's special homemade cakes. Angel's creativity and masterful baking draw in clients, but once people taste Angel's kindness, warmth, and caring, they leave as friends. Gaile Parkin's Angel Tungaraza reminds me of Precious Ramotswe from Alexander Mccall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Not because are both "traditionally built" African women, but because they're both independent businesswomen whose humor and caring, problem-solving skills and gentle maneuvering, constantly benefit everyone around them. Expat neighbor, Rwandan driver, ambassador's wife, doctor, nurse, student, bank teller, restaurant owner, sex worker, unwed mother, or child - all receive Angel Tungaraza's attention and friendship. Although Baking Cakes in Kigali touches on dark and difficult issues such as AIDs, genocide in Rwanda, suicide, poverty, government corruption, the many displaced and homeless children, and the hunting and extinction of wild animals, Gaile Parkin and Angel Tungaraza approach them with such sensitivity and humor that the stories combine the bitter with the sweet. Baking Cakes in Kigali is a delightful debut novel and a fun, satisfying read. Publisher: Delacorte Press (August 18, 2009), 320 pages. ISBN-10: 0385343434 Review copy provided by the publisher.
hd93021 More than 1 year ago
Having spent time in Kigali, in such a compound as this book describes, when I picked up this book, I wondered if Parkin really would capture its essence. Having read it, I was not disappointed and can say that she's done a great job, without dwelling so heavily on the atrocities that have beset this country, that it makes it painful to read as fiction. Instead, she has deftly woven this country's recent history amongst engaging characters, in a way that is empathetic and thought provoking.
mlizard More than 1 year ago
I purchased this since my niece was teaching in Rwanda. The setting is realistic, the use of language is quirky and true to the city, and the sense of the city and the way people live gives you a window on how people live in Kigali. I loved the characters, and the subtle way the characters were developed. I strongly recommend this.
Frisbeesage More than 1 year ago
Baking Cakes in Kigali is the heartwarming tale of Angel Tungaraza, a professional cake baker living in Rwanda. She creates beautiful and creative cakes; an airplane for a young girl's birthday, a prison with bent bars for a divorce party, and a ying/yang cake to create balance. Each cake comes with a story - families reunited after the genocide in Rwanda, young women learning to be entrepreneurs, love affairs, and divorces. At the center of it all is Angel dispensing advice, cupcakes, and sweet tea and keeping secrets because she is a professional somebody. Angel's ability to gently solve the problems of everyone around her is nicely balanced with her struggles to overcome her own heartbreak. Both her daughter and son are dead and she must come to terms with their deaths while raising her grandchildren. The book doesn't shy away from tough issues confronting AIDS, genocide, and infidelity head on and this lends the story a depth and realistic flavor it would otherwise be missing. I loved the characters, enjoyed the humor, and was warmed by the sense of hope found in Baking Cakes in Kigali. I'll look forward to reading Gaile Parkin's next novel!
kren250 More than 1 year ago
Tanzanian native Angel Tungaraza is one busy lady. She is still adjusting to life in Rwanda after having moved there a year before due to her husband's job. She is also busy raising her five orphaned grandchildren, and runs her own cake-making business. Not only does she bake and decorate amazing cakes, but she gives out advice to her customers as well. This is a cute, sweet, and touching book. I would classify it as a "gentle" read, although it does briefly touch on the violence that happened during the 1994 genocide (the book is set in 2000). It was interesting to see a perspective of Rwanda several years after the genocide; the few books I've read set in Rwanda were either about the genocide or set before it. And it was sad to see how HIV/AIDS had affected so many of the characters' lives. Despite these bleak topics, the book has an uplifting feel to it as the main character tries her best to better the lives of her neighbors, family, and friends.
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shirfire More than 1 year ago
This book manages to be ultimately uplifting even though it covers some of the most gruesome subjects of modern times. It's a rare opportunity for us to get an intimate glimpse into the daily life of Africa; touching on many of the complex issues facing this great continent today. Topics such as genocide, HIV and female circumcision are woven into the fabric of the story much like a spider weaves his beautifully crafted web. All of the characters in the novel are brought to life skillfully. The main character, Angel, is just an amazing literary creation. Her day-to-day hardships, which are many; and successes, small as they may be, are portrayed through the world of her small home baking business. Her beautiful, decorative cakes are described so clearly, we can almost smell them! Tragedy has struck her family again and again; but she refuses to let it get the better of her. Her stoicism and ability to survive in the face of the worst events imaginable are a lesson to us all. I am a fan of The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency series, but those stories are shallow and sophomoric compared to Baking Cakes in Kigali. This book delves so much deeper and goes into so much more detail; and indeed, the writing is better. Thanks are due to Library Thing, Delacorte Press, and Gaile Parkin for their consideration in sending this book for review through Library Thing's Member Giveaway Early Reviewer's program.
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