Transcendent Kingdom

Transcendent Kingdom

Book - 2020
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"A novel about faith, science, religion, and family that tells the deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief, narrated by a fifth year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford school of medicine studying the neural circuits of reward seeking behavior in mice"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2020
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780525658184
Branch Call Number: F GYA
Characteristics: 261 pages ; 24 cm


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Jan 19, 2021

Gifty, who we meet as a doctoral candidate in a rigorous science discipline, was a pious and devout evangelical Christian as a child - as she puts it: "I spoke in tongues. The whole thing." She was raised in Alabama, the child of Ghanian immigrant parents, in a world far away from the cold laboratories of Stanford. She experienced much trauma, including abandonment, poverty, mental health issues and drug addiction of family members, and a loss of faith. And that's where we find the adult Gifty, wrestling with her same questions for both science and God, and she will not feel whole until she reaches some conclusions. I found Gifty's story very moving and Gyasi has given us a masterful exploration of someone looking for answers; personal, religious, and scientific.
Also, this is Gyasi's second novel and I read her Homegoing last year and thought it was wonderful. But the two books could not be more different and it's difficult to believe the same author wrote both. The range of this young author is amazing and I can't wait to see what she does next.

Jan 11, 2021

Gyasi is a skilled and beautiful writer. Her work feels deeply personal, and her narrative style is easy to immerse yourself in. Transcendent Kingdom examines the intersection faith and science, and how they play out in terms of mental health and addiction. It's a difficult subject matter, and the book took me longer to read than I imagined it would b/c of that. I would say that I preferred Gyasi's debut novel, and I don't think Kingdom lives up to that, but definitely still worth your time.

Jan 02, 2021

Review in The Week

Dec 26, 2020

wash post rec

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Dec 26, 2020

Beautiful, layered look at a family of immigrants from Ghana. The family's faith traditions are Pentecostal and suffers from mental illness and addiction, and the lead character is working on a PhD in neuro chemistry. Lots of big ideas about science v faith AND how those two things intersect with addiction and how it works.

Dec 17, 2020

This is a soul searching, introspective story as the protagonist grapples with her evangelical roots,
her longing to recognize a God, and her neuroscience research work for her PhD. Gyasi deftly
explores these themes as well as immigration, racism in Alabama, mental health, and addiction. A
thoughtful and emotional read.

JCLJenV Dec 11, 2020

A novel seeking to find understanding about life’s mysteries. I love how the main character processed her spiritual journey from childhood to adulthood.

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Nov 25, 2020

Sophomore efforts, especially following brilliant debuts, can be difficult to rate. In this case, I did not love Transcendent Kingdom like I did Homegoing. But still, I liked it, like a lot a lot. And I wonder if I hadn't read Homegoing, might I have even loved Transcendent Kingdom.
REGARDLESS... Gyasi is a super talent and this is a solid novel. So. (Listened to the audiobook; recommended.)

Nov 21, 2020

Yaa Gyasi’s talent for writing and telling stories is undisputed here. I’ve just expected more from this story!
“ The truth is we don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t even know the questions we need to ask in order to find out, but when we learn one tiny little thing, a dim light comes on in a dark hallway, and suddenly a new question appears. We spend decades, centuries, millennia, trying to answer that one question so that another dim light will come on. ”

Chapel_Hill_MaiaJ Nov 12, 2020

Transcendent Kingdom is beautifully written and compulsively readable, told in the voice of Gifty, an ivy league graduate student investigating the neuroscience of reward-seeking behavior in mice. She explores the intersection of science and religion as she struggles to reconcile her life as a scientist with her evangelical upbringing, as well as the relationships between immigration, racism, mental illness, and addiction, tracing a nonlinear narrative path through her life and family.

Gifty's narration is conversational and relatable, as she struggles with profound concepts and experiences. I loved her honest struggle, not angsty but thoughtful, and not over-simplified, but addressed in all its complexity.

I'm sure some will struggle with the talk of the complex relationship between religion and science. Some will think it is too religious and others will think it is too secular, but I think Yaa Gyasi did a wonderful job exploring the real complexity of that relationship, and the internal struggle that many young people in the Bible Belt face in this respect.

I've seen in other early reviews that a couple of people didn't like the long reflective passages exploring Gifty's internal coming-of-age, so to speak, in respect to her understandings of science, religion, immigration, racism, mental illness, and addiction. I found these passages very thoughtful and engaging, though. They read like a conversation with a very close friend with whom you can be completely raw and honest.

I loved this book, and I'm sure it will be just as popular as Homegoing. This would be a perfect pick for a book club, because it will spur lots of conversation about deep topics.

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