Gingerbread: A Novel by Helen Oyeyemi
"Exhilarating...A wildly imagined, head-spinning, deeply intelligent novel." -The New York Times Book Review
"[W]ildly inventive...[Helen Oyeyemi's] prose is not without its playful bite." -Vogue
The prize-winning, bestselling author of Boy, Snow, Bird and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours returns with a bewitching and imaginative novel.
Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children's stories, the beloved bestselling author of Boy, Snow, Bird and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours invites readers into a delightfully inventive and bewitching novel about a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe.
Perdita Lee may appear your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there's the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it's very popular in Druhástrana, the far away (or, according to many sources, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee's early youth. The world's truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread, however, is Harriet's charismatic childhood friend Gretela--a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met.
Decades later, when teenage Perdita's search for her mother's long-lost friend prompts a new telling of Harriet's story. As the book follows the Lees through encounters with jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work, wealth, and real estate, gingerbread seems to be the one thing that reliably holds a constant value. Endlessly surprising and satisfying, written with Helen Oyeyemi's inimitable style and imagination, Gingerbread is a true feast for the reader.
“Oyeyemi takes the familiar contours of a children’s tale and twists it into something completely new, unsettling, and uncanny…. The effect is heady, surreal, and disarming—you have to be willing to surrender to Oyeyemi’s vision and the delicious twists and turns of her prose. Oyeyemi fans will likely be charmed. New readers will wonder what on Earth they’ve discovered. A strange, shape-shifting novel about the power of making your own family.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“In Oyeyemi’s idiosyncratically brilliant latest (following Boy, Snow, Bird), she spins a tale about three generations of women and the gingerbread recipe that is their curse and their legacy…. Oyeyemi excels at making the truly astounding believable and turning even the most familiar tales into something strange and new. This fantastic and fantastical romp is a wonderful addition to her formidable canon.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review