Thursday, June 1, 2023

Throwback Thursday #1: Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin

Throwback Thursday is a monthly bookish meme hosted by Davida @ The Chocolate Lady's Book Review Blog every first Thursday of the month, where we are highlighting one of our previously published book reviews.

I see this as an opportunity to re-post (or translate posts originally published in Bahasa Indonesia) my old book reviews, previously posted in my old (now inactive) blogs.

For my first #ThrowbackThursday, I picked a book I've read and reviewed in June 2014. It's a heartwarming, mouthwatering book about baking cakes and humanity.

Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin

🧁 In 1994 Rwanda was torn by ethnic genocide. Now in 2000, six years after the tragedy, the survivors are still in traumatic condition. Distrust and fear are still thickly clouding their daily lives. In this condition, the Turangaza family move in from Tanzania, and live in an apartment.

🧁 Angel Tungaraza is a professional cake baker, and through this business Angel spread to the neighborhood the spirit of reconciliation. Reconciliation of the two ethnics that were fighting in the genocide: the Tutsis and the Hutus, as well as personal reconciliation with each of their pasts.

🧁 In Kigali, seems that everyone has experienced the losing (at least) a family member. Although coming from Tanzania (and did not experience the genocide), Angel and her husband, Pius, are also victims of traumatic experience of losing their children by death. AIDS, as we all know, is another deathly terror in Africa at that time besides Rwandan genocide. The Tungarazas’ children have died of AIDS, and now Angel and Pius must raise their grandchildren (five of them!) by themselves. Fortunately, in the time of resurgent after the tragedy, there are plenty of things to be celebrated. And, what is a celebration without a cake?

🧁 Since the best cake in Kigali is Angel’s, her business springs, and people from all background come to her apartment to order cakes. Gaile Parkin described the cakes to tiny details in every chapter, and that—apart from the people struggles—gives the book its unique attraction. Each chapter portrays each cake, each event of celebration, each individual, with each problem.

🧁 Angel’s cakes are not only delicious in taste, but they are also impressive in decoration. The cakes are rich in colors (as the African like it) and they are tailor-made to the celebration itself (or the person who is celebrating it). But Angel does not run the business only for money, more than that, she helps her customers to regain happiness in her own simple way.

🧁 When customers come, Angel would let them sit down, and gives them her portfolio for their reference, while she is preparing her Tanzanian spiced tea, accompanied with cupcakes. She never runs out of these cupcakes because she used to make them from what’s left of the cakes she makes for customers.

🧁 Over the tea and cupcakes—and most of all, her friendly but professional manner—Angel would drive her customers to tell their success—or bitter—stories of life. Being a good listener with tender heart, Angel often brings hope—if not solution—to them. And, as a bonus, she gets the order, plus the happiness of baking and decorating beautiful cakes, which is her passion.

🧁 For a debut, Gaile Parkin has written a tremendous work. ‘Baking Cakes in Kigali’ is a sweet and pleasant reading which bears a serious theme. It flows naturally and conveniently, offers sweetness (from the cakes things), a bit of mystery (from Angel’s traumatic past), and a lot of humanity aspects (love, racialism, freedom, etc.). I love it from the beginning, and the book certainly made me craving for cupcakes! :)

Have you read this book?
I just realized that it has a sequel - I would love to go back to Kigali and 'taste' Angel's cupcakes again!



  1. I'm so glad you're participating! And this looks like a really lovely choice!

    1. And thanks for hosting it, I see it as a way of bringing my scattered reviews to be housed here. And yes, the book is very lovely!

  2. I like the sound of this one! In interesting setting in Rwanda, a great character in Angel, and cakes, too? Putting it on my TBR list. :D

    1. I know, right? I think I've bought this book because of the beautiful cover and the word "cake". They seemed exotic and delicious - which turned out to be true! Hope you'll love it when you get to read the book!


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