Authors: Charmaine Wilkerson
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2022 by Charmaine Wilkerson
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.
colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Wilkerson, Charmaine, author.
Black cake: a novel / Charmaine Wilkerson.
New York: Ballantine Books,  |
LCCN 2021026213 (print) | LCCN 2021026214 (ebook) | ISBN 9780593358337 (hardcover) | ISBN 9780593358344 (ebook)
LCSH: Brothers and sisters—Fiction. | Mothers—Death—Fiction. | Families—Fiction. | LCGFT: Novels.
LCC PS3623.I5456 B58 2022 (print) | LCC PS3623.I5456 (ebook) | DDC 813/.6—dc23
LC record available at
LC ebook record available at
Ebook ISBN 9780593358344
Title-page and part-title art assembled from iStock images
Book design by Barbara M. Bachman, adapted for ebook
Cover design: Jaya Miceli
Cover images: Zapatosoldador/Shutterstock (waves); Arelix/Shutterstock (woman); ppart/Shutterstock (texture)
e should have known it
would come to this. He should have known the day that
wife of his ran away from home. Should have known the day he saw his daughter swimming in the bay as a storm bore down on her. Should have known when his parents dragged him to this island and changed their names. He stood at the water’s edge, now, watching the waves crash white against the rocks, waiting for his daughter’s body to wash ashore.
A policeman beckoned to him. The policeman was a girl. He’d never seen one of those before. She was holding a fluff of white fabric, his daughter’s wedding dress, smeared with black cake and lilac icing. She must have dropped the cake on herself as she jumped up from the table. He remembered a clattering of plates, the splintering of glass on the tile floor, someone crying out. When he looked toward his daughter, she was gone and her satin-covered shoes lay strewn on the lawn outside like tiny capsized boats.