This Cake Is for the Party

By Sarah Selecky


• Scotiabank Giller Prize (Finalist)
• Commonwealth Writer’s Prize (Shortlisted)
• Best First Book Award
• Frank O’Connor Short Story Award (Longlisted)
• CBC Award: Best New Fiction
• The Globe 100: Best Canadian Fiction

“The subjects of these 10 sparkling stories tend to live everyday lives, with everyday problems and neuroses about food, friends, lovers, parents and spouses. And yet they’re utterly fascinating. Selecky’s writing, so unfussy and fresh, lures the reader in over and over again.”

– The New York Times Book Review

In these ten stories, linked frequently by the sharing of food, Sarah Selecky reaffirms the life of everyday situations with startling significance. For fiction readers who seek stories that reflect the joys and pitfalls of marriage, fidelity, fertility, and relationship woes, this collection is a conversation starter.

This Cake Is for the Party reminds us that the best parts of our lives are often the least flashy. Reminiscent of early Margaret Atwood, with echoes of Lisa Moore and Ali Smith, these absorbing stories are about love and longing, and touch us in a myriad of subtle and affecting ways.

Heralded by writers and reviewers alike, it’s clear that Selecky displays a rare combination of nuance and power. From a dying mother-­in­-law to a controlling father, a best friend’s heartbreaking admission, a drug ­testing clinic, and one thousand wax Buddha candles, ­the emotions and objects in our lives are brought to light with brilliant style and craft in this collection.

Sarah Selecky Writing School

“Sarah Selecky could easily be the next Alice Munro.”

“...sparkling, unfussy and fresh.”


Sarah Selecky Writing School

“Vibrant, poetic and salacious, Cake offers a survey of Gen X-ers all grown up and struggling... It's no wonder that Cake came so close to winning the Giller... Selecky shows that art must be both relevant and beautifully crafted in order to make waves in this culture.”

Sarah Selecky Writing School

“[Sarah] has a tremendous eye for detail and she is extremely observant of the subtle relations between people and the way those dynamics shift, and... the blindnesses of people.”

Author of The Emperor's Children

“Selecky’s stories are ultra-lush and wise, wickedly wry. This Cake is ... delicious”
Lisa Moore

“Dry and funny, exact and exacting, the 10 short stories in This Cake is for the Party elevate economy of expression itself to an art. Story after story in this resonant and quietly apocalyptic collection deliver a sharp analysis of contemporary surreality and the madness of modern homogeneity. Its stories are tender, broken, deceptively unassuming then unexpectedly breathtaking. It holds its delicate oppositions — numbness and understanding, smartness and tragedy — with discipline and flair, and marks the arrival of a gifted writer.”

The Scotiabank Giller Prize Jury citation

Giller Prize

Sarah Selecky Writing School

“Selecky’s stories follow a wonderful collection of characters in the midst of personal dilemmas, crises and tragedies. We watch as defining moments collide with constructed truths. Lives are altered, never to be the same again...We are fortunate, indeed, that Selecky chose the short story to showcase her talent. Her writing is strong, often understated, witty and always compassionate. This Cake is for the Party is more than dessert — it is a veritable feast!”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “The characters are real. They are so effortlessly and quintessentially themselves ... This story has been one of my favourite writing teachers.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Selecky is skilled at sketching an entire scene with a few words, evoking big emotions that stay in the reader's mind long after the scene is over.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Selecky sinks her teeth into something far more powerful than the violence of loss: she skillfully wrests devastation from its customary gloom of lamentation and regret, and bares its overwhelming beauty.”

    (Metro ed)

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Selecky harbours deep affection for her characters, combined with effortless grace; there is truly not a weak link to be found. She has a keen ear for understated dialogue, and a gift for unusual description...”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “...I loved it. I've discovered that I love certain books in different ways, and this one asked to be with me as though it were my blankie. This is one book I've clutched to my chest and felt close to... I'm having a really hard time trying to put words to the profundity of the experience... This Cake is an impressive, accomplished first collection from a very talented young author...a valuable addition to the Canadian literary scene. Whatever she's got coming next, I want a piece of it.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “From the first page, This Cake buzzes with casually great dialogue, and in every story, on every page, Selecky meets the fundamental requirement that fiction be multitasking. Her alternately comic and serious stories are inventive and honest...”

Sarah Selecky Writing School

“Selecky’s stories are ultra-lush and wise, wickedly wry. She is uncannily accurate about all the tender, blasted-open moments that change us for the good. This Cake... is delicious.”

Author of February, and Alligator

Sarah Selecky Writing School

“If you want fresh, complex characters that are wry and self-deprecating, lost and found, sometimes shifty, and always very honest in the ways they fear the truth, then read Sarah Selecky. These stories are very good.”

Author The Time in Between and The Matter With Morris

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “These stories are state of the art. With consummate precision, she captures her character at moments when their worlds seem to be crumbling: friends seem unfamiliar, lovers feel far away, and things that were supposed to last forever are falling apart. Sometimes her stories are sad; sometimes scary. Often they’re flat-out funny. They’re always artful and wonderful.”

    Author of The Haunted Hillbilly and The Show That Smells

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Selecky’s debut short-story collection finds characters, mostly female, walking and testing the lines of love, fidelity, and friendship... [These] 10 slow-burning tales offer wry observations of relationships and regret.”

    Leah Strauss



Sarah Selecky Writing School

“Everything a story should be: smart, wise, achingly poignant, its tightly sprung pages enfolding lifetimes of experience.”

Rebecca Wigod

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  • Canadian Version
    Dundurn Press
    (previously published by Thomas Allen Publishing)
    ISBN: 978-0-88762-525-1
    ISBN (epub): 978-0-88762-824-5
    Published: May 8, 2010

  • US Version
    MacMillan Publishers
    Imprint Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
    ISBN: 9781250018366
    ISBN-10: 1250011426
    ISBN-13: 978-1250011428 
    Published: November 13, 2012