Black Cake

Penguin Random House Audio. Feb. 2022. 12:02 hrs. ISBN 9780593505212. $22.50. F
Estranged siblings Benny and Byron are reluctantly reunited after the death of their mother, Eleanor. She’s left them a traditional Caribbean black cake and a long voice recording that unspools a family history kept secret for nearly 50 years. As they listen to the recording, the novel explores not just Eleanor’s life and secrets, but also the siblings’ childhood, their adult years, and the events that led to their estrangement. Two exceptional performances from narrators Lynnette Freeman and Simone Mcintyre bring Wilkerson’s globe-trotting, decade-spanning debut novel vividly to life. Freeman narrates the bulk of the book in a deep, rich tone that works for characters of all ages and genders. Mcintyre voices the recording left by Eleanor in a gentle, musical Caribbean accent. The similarities in their voices create continuity between the novel’s sections, while highlighting the recording that is the story’s central element.
VERDICT Grounded but filled with feeling, the narrators’ performances perfectly match the tenor of Wilkerson’s emotional novel. Highly recommended.
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