Winner of the 2015 Red Hen Press Fiction Award.

A new novel-in-stories that New York Times bestselling author Jillian Lauren calls “a delicious indulgence.”

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Cake Time by Siel JuBook club discussion questions for Cake Time

Daring yet aimless, smart but slightly strange, Cake Time’s young female protagonist keeps making slippery choices, sliding into the dangerous space where curiosity melds with fear and desires turn into dirty messes.

In “How Not to Have an Abortion,” the teenaged narrator looks for a ride from the clinic between her AP exams. In “Easy Target,” the now-college-grad agrees to go to a swingers party with a handsome stranger. A decade later, in “Glow,” she is suddenly confronted by the disturbing and thrilling fact of her lover’s secret daughter.

Ultimately, Cake Time grapples with urgent, timeless questions: why intelligent girls make terrible choices, where to negotiate a private self in an increasingly public world, and how to love madly without losing a sense of self.


Praise for Cake Time

“A promising start for a brave and unapologetically bold new writer.”

Kirkus (starred review)

” Cake Time is a great story collection for our present moment; an exploration of love, morality, and contentment that proves such concepts can be as murky and uncertain as a wisp of cigarette smoke outside a chic bar.”


“An irresistible read with tonal payoffs that are at times momentous and always evocative…. The reader is never taken out of the present, but drawn seductively close to a character who is alone and searching for connection, a character who feels like a sort of West Coast Jane Eyre in the age of Tinder.”

Necessary Fiction


Cake Time is a delicious indulgence. Treat yourself to its dark, seductive intimacies and savor the gritty sugar of its unsentimental humor.”

— Jillian Lauren, NY Times bestselling author of Some Girls: My Life in a Harem, and Everything You Ever Wanted


“Siel Ju’s Cake Time is an astonishing debut. Ju’s novel in stories is unsettling and fierce and full of loneliness, sadness, and humor. Her voice is so alive, and her candor—particularly about men and sex—is keenly astute, intimate, and startling. The prose is precise and poetic and Los Angeles vibrates on the page. Wry and heartfelt and uniquely defiant, Cake Time is like a hard slap I didn’t expect or see coming.”

— Victoria Patterson, author of The Little Brother and Drift


“Siel Ju’s Cake Time is sharply observed and wonderfully contemporary: these complex, flawed, and real characters live in our current world, with all its confusions and opportunity to connect–or disconnect. It’s about the perils and pleasures of intimacy, and its heroine feels as alive as you and I. A compelling and unflinching debut.”

— Edan Lepucki, author of California


“Siel Ju writes with refreshing candor about sexual appetite and the treacherous difficulty of finding love. There is cruelty in the search and tenderness and a lot of honest fumbling around. Cake Time is our time—a provocative debut.”

— Noy Holland, author of Bird


“Siel Ju’s stories are not boring because they are about not-boring things, like swingers’ parties and organic fashion company beauty pageants and high school sex and breakups and hook ups. Lots and lots of breakups and hook ups. I worried for Siel Ju reading about all these breakups and hook ups. Then I reminded myself these are fictions Siel Ju is telling us, and Siel Ju is fine. We are all fine, even after all these breakups and hook ups.”

— Elizabeth Ellen, author of Fast Machine and Bridget Fonda


“Siel’s wit reminded me of Michelle Tea and her blunt treatment of sexuality was refreshingly candid and fun.”

— Kevin Sampsell, author of A Common Pornography and This Is Between Us


“With language that is seductive and sharp Cake Time serves up a portraits of heartbreak with biting humor.”

— Jim Ruland, author of Forest of Fortune and Big Lonesome


“Ju’s writing is refreshingly honest, the characters’ situations at once familiar and made new…. Cake Time a riveting book that I struggled to put down. I’d follow this protagonist for another twenty years.”

— Michelle Ross, author of There Is So Much They Haven’t Told You


“Ju is a master at creating sex scenes. There is no gauzy filter, no florid prose—and that suits her purposes just fine. This is an engaging collection by a very savvy writer.”

— Jean Moore, author of Water on the Moon



The Rumpus: A Funny Inevitability: In Conversation with Siel Ju
Juked: An Uncontrollable Sweet Tooth: A Conversation with Siel Ju
Otherppl with Brad Listi: Episode 474 — Siel Ju
Fiction Writers Review: This Happens, Then That Happens: An Interview with Siel Ju
Angels Flight Literary West: Siel Ju in Conversation With Shilpa Agarwal
KMSU Weekly Reader: Interview with Siel Ju

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