March 2019 Indie Next List
“To me, any new book by Helen Oyeyemi is a cause for celebration, and Gingerbread is no exception. Harriet Lee is a mother, a daughter, a PTA-wannabe, a tutor, and a gingerbread baker. She is also Druhastranian—a refugee from a country that may (or may not) exist. No one is quite sure where Druhastana is or how to get there, but Harriet’s daughter, Perdita, is determined to find out even if it kills her. While still imbued with Oyeyemi’s trademark fairy tale essence, this novel is a departure into weirder, more uncanny territory. Oyeyemi, who lives in Prague, has finally given us her Czech novel, and it’s perfect.”
— Devon Dunn, Book Culture, New York, NY
"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, 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.