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Transcendent Kingdom
Cover of Transcendent Kingdom
Transcendent Kingdom
A novel
by Yaa Gyasi
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NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • A TODAY SHOW #ReadWithJenna BOOK CLUB PICK! • Finalist for the WOMEN'S PRIZE
Yaa Gyasi's stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national best seller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama
.

Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at the 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 griefa novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi's phenomenal debut.
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • A TODAY SHOW #ReadWithJenna BOOK CLUB PICK! • Finalist for the WOMEN'S PRIZE
Yaa Gyasi's stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national best seller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama
.

Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at the 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 griefa novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi's phenomenal debut.
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  • From the cover 1
     
    Whenever I think of my mother, I picture a queen-sized bed with her lying in it, a practiced stillness filling the room. For months on end, she colonized that bed like a virus, the first time, when I was child and then again when I was a graduate student. The first time, I was sent to Ghana to wait her out. While there, I was walking through Kejetia market with my aunt when she grabbed my arm and pointed.  “Look a crazy person,” she said in Twi.  “Do you see?  A crazy person.”
     
    I was mortified.  My aunt was speaking so loudly, and the man, tall with dust caked into his dreadlocks, was within earshot.  “I see. I see,” I answered in a low hiss.  The man continued past us, mumbling to himself as he waved his hands about in gestures that only he could understand. My aunt nodded, satisfied, and we kept walking past the hordes of people gathered in that agoraphobia-inducing market until we reached the stall where we would spend the rest of the morning attempting to sell knock-off handbags.  In my three months there, we sold only four bags.
     
    Even now, I don’t completely understand why my aunt singled the man out to me.  Maybe she thought there were no crazy people in America, that I had never seen one before. Or maybe she was thinking about my mother, about the real reason I was stuck in Ghana that summer, sweating in a stall with an aunt I hardly knew while my mother healed at home in Alabama.  I was eleven, and I could see that my mother wasn’t sick, not in the ways that I was used to. I didn’t understand what my mother needed healing from.  I didn’t understand, but I did.  And my embarrassment at my aunt’s loud gesture had as much to do with my understanding as it did with the man who had passed us by.  My aunt was saying, “That. That is what crazy looks like.” But instead what I heard was my mother’s name.  What I saw was my mother’s face, still as lake water, the pastor’s hand resting gently on her forehead, his prayer a light hum that made the room buzz.  I’m not sure I know what crazy looks like, but even today when I hear the word I picture a split screen, the dreadlocked man in Kejetia on one side, my mother lying in bed on the other.  I think about how no one at all reacted to that man in the market, not in fear or disgust, nothing, save my aunt who wanted me to look.  He was, it seemed to me, at perfect peace, even as he gesticulated wildly, even as he mumbled. 
     
    But my mother, in her bed, infinitely still, was wild inside.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 6, 2020
    Gyasi’s meticulous, psychologically complex second novel (after Homegoing) examines the consequences of a Ghanian family’s immigration to Huntsville, Ala. Gifty, the only member of the family born in the United States, is six years into a doctorate in neuroscience at Stanford, where she is attempting to see if she can alter the neural pathways leading to addiction and depression. Her project is motivated by the fate of her beloved older brother who died from a heroin overdose when she was in high school, and by the condition of her depressed mother, who is staying at Gifty’s apartment. Though she now determinedly puts her faith in science, Gifty still feels the pull of her evangelical upbringing, and she struggles to reconcile the two opposing belief systems while juggling her dissertation and care for her mother, plus a growing attraction to her awkward lab mate. The narrative moves smoothly between the present and Gifty’s childhood, with episodes such as a summer spent in Ghana with her aunt during a previous phase of her mother’s depression rising in the background while Gifty works her way up in her field. Gyasi’s constraint renders the emotional impact of the novel all the more powerful: her descriptions of the casual racism endured by the family, particularly at the hands of their nearly all-white church in Alabama, is more chilling for being so matter-of-fact. 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.

  • AudioFile Magazine Bahni Turpin uses her considerable talent as a narrator to become Gifty, a Ghanaian-American woman juggling her family's many addictions and losses. Turpin's gentle, pensive tone helps us feel the turmoil within Gifty when she turns to the sciences to understand why some people sink into mental-health issues. The narrator's sharp, quick pace captures Gifty's strong inner monologue, which is contrasted with the passivity of the family members around her. Turpin's performance has listeners leaning in to empathize as Gifty's mother lives out her remaining days in bed and her brother dies from a drug overdose. We are treated to a unique blend of cultures as Gifty grapples with their collective family experience as African immigrants in Alabama. M.R. � AudioFile 2020, Portland, Maine
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Transcendent Kingdom
A novel
Yaa Gyasi
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