Transcendent Kingdom is a stunning exploration of a family and faith, of self and science. Gifty is a brilliant neuroscience grad student trying to isolate and study addiction in the brain, who is tasked with taking care of her depressed mother when she stops getting out of bed. Yaa Gyasi creates an intimate and complex portrait of Gifty, centered on her family's attempts to cope with her older brother's death by opioid overdose, and the shadows of the past that loom over her relationships. Recommended By Michelle C., Powells.com
Transcendent Kingdom is a searching, intimate novel about so many issues: race and the immigrant experience, the twin scourges of addiction and depression and our society's failure to grapple with them, the power and the limitations of religious faith and of scientific inquiry, and how we cope with profound loss and grief. This is a moving, urgent story, and I couldn't put it down. Recommended By Tim B., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at Stanford University School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after an ankle injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed.
Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family's loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive.
Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief — a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi's phenomenal debut.
"[Gyasi] is astute about childhood grandiosity and a pious girl's deep
desire to be good; she conveys in brief strokes the notched, nodding
hook of heroin's oblivion."
Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Meticulous, psychologically complex....At once a vivid evocation of the immigrant experience and a sharp delineation of an individual’s inner struggle, the novel brilliantly succeeds on both counts." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"With deft agility and undeniable artistry, Gyasi's latest is an eloquent examination of resilient survival."
"Absolutely transcendent. A gorgeously woven narrative about a woman trying to survive the grief of a brother lost to addiction and a mother trapped in depression while pursuing her ambitions. Not a word or idea out of place. Completely different from Homegoing. THE RANGE. I am quite angry this is so good." Roxane Gay
"I would say that Transcendent Kingdom is a novel for our time (and it is) but it is so much more than that. It is a novel for all times. The splendor and heart and insight and brilliance contained in the pages holds up a light the rest of us can follow." Ann Patchett
About the Author
Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she held a Dean's Graduate Research Fellowship. She lives in Brooklyn.