Book Review: Baking with Kafka, by Tom Gauld

Book Review: Baking with Kafka, by Tom Gauld

Cartoonist Tom Gauld wittily questions literacy & writing and in these days of social media and when there seems to be an app for everything.


Tom Gauld is a regular cartoonist in the weekend edition of The Guardian and other publications, including The New Scientist. For anyone who likes books, whether that’s reading or writing, Baking with Kafka is a must read. The cartoons have a literary flavour and wittily question how that concept is manifest in these days of advanced technology when there seems to be an app for everything and communication via social media seems to be the preferred medium for many.

As someone who has made some, albeit, feeble attempts at creative writing, I particularly enjoyed this one as I have several pristine Moleskin journals and a wide range of writing implements as well as my trusty laptop:

Gauld pokes fun at the proliferation of on-line ‘How to Write’ classes by offering a ridiculous course in procrastination for writers. I am nonetheless pleased to see the course includes Snacks and Beverages as separate topic as well as Pauses, Tea Breaks and Naps, as those are topics I could use further information on!

The cartoons address many aspects of the written word in all its glories and the author doesn’t hesitate to skewer the highbrow nonsense we are sometimes offered in theatres. The current trend towards ‘authenticity’, which must be a meaningless concept when presenting a 400 year old Shakespearean play, is sublimely sent-up. At the same time the cartoon reminds us of the very different world in which the plays were written and performed.

I’m a great fan of mystery novels and if I ever master the Procrastination for Creative Writers Course and actually manage to write something, here’s a cartoon that could be inspirational:

In the Golden Age of detective fiction, which is the kind of narrative I most admire, it was usually assumed poison was a woman’s weapon so I think I might start my project by investigating where I can source both poison and an artisanal brioche. Of course, I won’t be able to begin writing until I’ve concluded my research.

The cartoons are entertaining, sometimes surreal, and will make you think long after you’ve read them. I highly recommend the book to anyone who loves the written word and has even a hint of a sense of humour.

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

Rating out of 10:  9

Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Release Date: October 2017
RRP: $24.99 hardcover

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