Transcendent Kingdom | Yaa Gyasi
304 pages | Vintage Books
Yaa Gyasi's stunning follow-up to her acclaimed Homegoing: a novel about a Ghanaian family in the contemporary South, at once a profound story about race in America and an astonishingly intimate portrait of a young woman reckoning, spiritually and intellectually, with a legacy of unmanageable loss.
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 losses, 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 immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief--a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, it is also a testament to Yaa Gyasi's extraordinary range and ambition, a leap into completely new territory undertaken with effortless command and raw emotion, in language that soars.