NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Yaa Gyasi's stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national bestseller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama.
Gifty is a fifth year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford University's School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behaviour 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 a knee 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 hard science 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 and emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi's phenomenal debut.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
When you fall in love with an author’s debut, you hope that their next book will give you even more cause to read everything they put out into the world. Transcendent Kingdom is very different from Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi’s astonishing epic about two branches of a family with roots in Ghana. Her second novel is a contemporary story about Gifty, a young woman who grapples with her tricky relationship to her Ghanian immigrant mother—and to the evangelical church that shaped her complicated upbringing in Huntsville, Alabama. Gyasi writes in a quiet, matter-of-fact style that reflects her neuroscientist heroine’s probing watchfulness about the tendencies of the human mind. We were powerfully drawn to Gifty’s story and her stunning revelations about family, grief, addiction, faith, and the ways in which we cling to belief and hope.
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.