I read widely–and I’m always excited when I pick up a great literary novel and am BLOWN AWAY by the writing. That was the case with Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi. My DAR chapter read this for our February 2021 book club, partially because the group had read Homegoing a few years before and adored it. I have not read Homegoing–I joined the chapter the month afterwards–but I probably will now that I have read, and loved, Transcendent Kingdom.
For context: this is a less than 300 page, beautifully written, contemporary literary fiction novel. It has chapter breaks, quotations, and the characters reflect on the present and the past on the same page, not just in separated chapters.
Gifty is an American-born woman of Ghanian descent who, in the present day, is getting a PhD in Neuroscience at Stanford Medical School and focusing on addiction and such things with her mice. She gets a call from her church pastor back in Alabama that throws a wrench in things though, her mother has taken to her bed again, and now her mother is living with Gifty in her small apartment in California, sleeping most of the day, just like she did after Gifty’s brother died of a drug overdose years ago. While trying to balance this new visitor with her lab work, Gifty is also revisting the lifelong conversations she’s had about faith, especially in relation to her own family, her brother’s death, and her scientific work.
This is a beautifully, beautifully written book and once you start, you’ll be drawn in. It’s so simple in so many ways–it’s not a book where you know it has to end one way or another–but it’s such a beautiful journey. Gifty oftens revisits her past, her one trip to Ghana, the death of her brother and how that impacted her. The relationships she has and doesn’t have are interesting and complex and it’s okay if you don’t know how brains work–you’ll still enjoy this book!
I was super impressed with the beauty of this book. I hope you’ll give it a read!
Transcendent Kingdom is on sale wherever books are sold.