22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Baking Cakes in Kigali (Hardcover)
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Set in Rwanda, the intriguing quality of this novel lies in its incongruity: it deals with the aftermath of genocide with a surreal serenity. There is nothing in the writing style that is tense, ugly or staccato; what shocks is how matter-of-fact the characters are about the horrors they have endured. They have all been touched intimately by war and have for the most part survived in one fashion or another.
It is this question of survival that forms the leitmotif for the whole book. The various methods people use are explored through the experiences of the protagonists. The author offers no opinion on the 'correct' way but simply suggests how such unfortunates manage to survive at all.
The main character, Angel, is well-defined and believable in her calm manner and common-sense approach to her situation. I found some of the minor characters difficult to distinguish one from another because they are sketched almost thumbnail against the backdrop of compound life and not clearly enough defined on introduction.
It is hard to comment on the plot because there is not really a definable start-middle-end. The action strolls along much like life itself, which gives the book a familiar and almost insubstantial feel.
Towards the end, I felt a tighter editing would have helped as the prose meanders a little; the outline, vague to start with, grows fuzzy as it nears the horizon.
All in all, I found this novel easy to read, enlightening and sensitively written. It addresses a very difficult subject without any pathos or hysteria and is written with a lightness of touch that is refreshing.