This Cake Is for the Party Stories

Sarah Selecky

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

240 Pages


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A Scotiabank Giller Prize Finalist

Shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor Short Story Award

Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer's Prize Best First Book Award

In these ten stories, linked frequently by the sharing of food, Sarah Selecky reaffirms the life of everyday situations with startling significance. For upmarket women's fiction readers that love stories which 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, that touch us in a myriad of subtle and affecting ways.


Praise for This Cake Is for the Party

"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."—Lisa Moore, author of February and Alligator

"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."—David Bergen, author of The Time in Between, winner of the Giller Prize

"These stories are state-of-the-art. With consummate precision, she captures her characters 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."—Derek McCormack, author of The Haunted Hillbilly and The Show That Smells

"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

"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."—Giller Jury citation

"Sarah Selecky could easily be the next Alice Munro."—Chatelaine

"Sarah Selecky's debut is an exceptional story collection full of regret and celebration, wisdom and wit. And while the collection explores sites of emotional and physical volatility, 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. Each of the 10 sharply cinched tales within This Cake pivots around this powerful inversion; and as Selecky demonstrates, the blight of antitheses—the party that is not one—is most often the stuff of celebration. Selecky's stories are also ridiculously witty. Compelling, clever and exceptionally crafted, This Cake really delivers."—Lisa Foad, Globe and Mail

"No wonder The Walrus magazine published 'Paul Farenbacher's Yard Sale' . . . The short story by Sarah Selecky is everything a story should be: smart, wise, achingly poignant, its tightly sprung pages enfolding lifetimes of experience. The story is one of the highlights of This Cake is for the Party, the 35-year old's first collection."—Rebecca Wigod, Vancouver Sun

"Her complex and honest characters are depicted in situations that are vaguely familiar, but also unsettling and brimming with tensions. Selecky has uncannily picked those moments which can change us for good and has focused upon them with accurate precision."—Betty Kowall, Guelph Mercury

"[Sarah] 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!"—Judith Meyrick, Halifax Herald

"Selecky skilfully employs small details and gestures that reveal character, while simply constructing stories, their sentences and scenes. Besides good writing, readers get a starting point for solving dilemmas in their own lives."—Sean Flinn, The Coast

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

This Cake Is for the Party

Throwing Cotton
This past New Year's Eve, sitting on the loveseat in front of our little tabletop Christmas tree, I poured us both a glass of sparkling wine and told Sanderson: I think I'm...

Read the full excerpt


  • Sarah Selecky

  • Sarah Selecky is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States and grew up in Southern Indiana and Northern Ontario. Selecky earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. Her writing has appeared in the top Canadian magazines and quarterlies such as The Walrus, The New Quarterly, The Journey Prize Anthology, among many others. She divides her time between Toronto and the rest of the world.

  • Sarah Selecky Ryan Henderson
    Sarah Selecky