Gingerbread: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews


AVAIL. 3/5/19

Gingerbread: sweet but with a bite, dark and complex, ultimately fulfilling - this also describes Helen Oyeyemi's newest novel. In this deliciously strange story, single mother Harriet Lee is raising her daughter Perdita, a seemingly normal British schoolgirl.  Under the surface, however, their lives are more curious. They live with dolls that are sentient, plants with personality, and, of course, the smell of gingerbread - a mystical food that connects Harriet to her own fantastical childhood and alluring friend Gretel.  Harriet's efforts to understand her place in a not-so-welcoming world, and Perdita's wish to know more about her family's legacy, can be sensed in the ever-present spell cast by their gingerbread. Gingerbread is a delightfully offbeat and very satisfying meal for the adventurous!

- Cindy

— From Cindy's Recs

Description


A MARCH INDIE NEXT PICK!

The prize-winning, bestselling author of Boy, Snow, Bird and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours returns with a bewitching and inventive novel
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Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children's stories, beloved novelist Helen Oyeyemi invites readers into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe. 

Perdita Lee may appear to be 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 Gretel Kercheval —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 teenaged Perdita sets out to find her mother's long-lost friend, it 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, it is a true feast for the reader.

About the Author


Helen Oyeyemi is the author of the story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, along with five novels-- most recently Boy, Snow, Bird, which was a finalist for the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She received a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award and a 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. In 2013, she was named one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists.

Praise For…


Praise for Gingerbread:

"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
 
"Beguiling."—Buzzfeed Books

"[Gingerbread] has the tinge of the folkloric to it: There are family feuds, a childhood friend named Gretel, and many more archetypal touchstones. Tying this all together is Oyeyemi’s deft hand, virtuosic lyricism, and graceful ability to find transcendence in all aspects of life, sweet and spicy alike.”—Nylon

"Gingerbread is the story’s metaphorical core, both sweet and spicy, simple and yet it is the hook for much strange and bizarrely haunting children’s folklore, and Oyeyemi manages to make something just as complicated and delicious; her prose is not without its bite."—Vogue

"Helen Oyeyemi never disappoints, and she’s done it again. Gingerbread…is her best work yet.”—HelloGiggles

"Gingerbread looks set to bring more of her inventiveness and wit to a fairytale element—gingerbread, of course—that holds a mysterious place in children’s literature.”—Literary Hub

"Oyeyemi’s trademark imagination makes for an enchanting, unreal story about legacy and birthright.”—Esquire

"Oyeyemi's latest is a clever subversion of fairy tale tropes to expose the secrets, entanglements, and estrangements within a family…Both a scathing indictment of capitalism and a tribute to the maddeningly inescapable endurance of family bonds, this enchanting tale will resonate with literary fiction lovers.” – Booklist

"[A] rollicking tale from the wildly inventive Oyeyemi." – Library Journal
Product Details
ISBN: 9781594634659
ISBN-10: 1594634653
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: March 5th, 2019
Pages: 272
Language: English