The Empress and the Cake by Linda Stift

The Empress and the Cake

Linda Stift

What a bizarre & disturbing read - but increasing addictive and impossible to look away. A seemingly innocent act of hospitality by an elderly lady towards a young woman she meets in a bakery slowly reveals itself to be something much more sinister. This tiny novel packs a powerful punch of sickening excess, freakish horror & uncomfortable laughter. The dual narrative bounces the reader between centuries - cranking up the surreal to full pitch.

Extract

It took a lot of hard practice to learn how to vomit silently. I began by sticking down my throat toothbrushes, paintbrushes or ostrich plumes, which I'd bought specifically for this purpose having read that these were what the ancient Romans used. I had no success with my fingers as I couldn't poke them down far enough, to the area where the vomiting reflex begins. I was unable, however, to spare myself the grazed and scarred knuckles that result from constantly rubbing the roof of one's mouth, because I tried it over and over again. The handles chafed my throat until it bled, and that always gave me such a shock that I'd interrupt my puking. Which meant that not everything came out.

Parallels
  • Dolly City by Orly Castel-Bloom
  • Hello and Goodbye by Patrick McCabe
  • Anything by Franz Kafka
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Violence