Evaluate: ‘Black Cake’ a scrumptious novel in bite-sized chunks

“Black Cake” by Charmaine Wilkerson takes a brand new method to the novel

“Black Cake” by Charmaine Wilkerson (Ballantine Books)

The debut novel of former journalist and quick fiction author Charmaine Wilkerson opens with a one-paragraph prologue known as “Then/1965.” A person stands on the water’s edge, “ready for his daughter’s physique to scrub ashore.” The subsequent web page is titled “Now/2018″ and we meet Byron and Benny, estranged siblings seeing one another for the primary time in eight years at their mom’s funeral.

The chapters come quick and livid after that. It takes some getting used to at first, however you ultimately settle right into a rhythm and revel in puzzling collectively what occurs between every quick snippet. It’s 382 pages of flash fiction to fill in these 53 years between Then and Now.

All of it provides as much as fairly a narrative. Each character has a number of narratives. There’s the face they current to their fellow characters within the novel, then there’s their true backstory, which frequently flips that public face on its head. Or as Benny wonders in her personal head as she grapples together with her mother and father’ historical past: “That is who they’ve all the time been, an African American household of Caribbean origin, a clan of untold tales and half-charted cultures.”

“Black Cake” is a satisfying literary meal, heralding the arrival of a brand new novelist to look at.