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Author to discuss novel, 'The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake'

November 03, 2011

The story starts thusly:

“It happened for the first time on a Tuesday afternoon, a warm spring day in the flatlands near Hollywood, a light breeze moving east from the ocean and stirring the black- eyed pansy petals newly planted in our flower boxes. My mother was home, baking me a cake.”

What happens next unfolds in Aimee Bender’s national best-selling novel, “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.”

Bender will discuss her work and give a public reading at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus, Nov. 30. The Public Craft Q&A will take place at 1 p.m. in Piper Writer’s house, and she will read and sign books at 7:45 p.m. in the Lyceum Theatre. Both events are free and open to the public.

Bender is the author of three books in addition to “Lemon Cake”: “The Girl in the Flammable Skirt” (1998), which was a New York Times Notable Book; “An Invisible Sign of My Own” (2000), which was an Los Angeles Times pick of the year: and “Willful Creatures” (2005), which was nominated by The Believer as one of the best books of the year.

“The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” (2010) won the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association's award for best fiction, and an Alex Award.

Bender’s short fiction has been published in Granta, GQ, Harper's, Tin House, McSweeney's, The Paris Review, and many more places, as well as heard on Public Radio International's "This American Life" and "Selected Shorts."

She has received two Pushcart prizes, and was nominated for the TipTree award in 2005, and the Shirley Jackson short story award in 2010. Her fiction has been translated into 16 languages. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches creative writing at the University of Southern California.

“The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” is the story of Rose Edelstein, an unassuming girl who is just turning 9. As she bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake, she discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother – her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother – tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.

The events are part of the Distinguished Visiting Writers Series sponsored by the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.

For more information, go to or call (480) 965-6018.