Transcendent Kingdom

Transcendent Kingdom

Book - 2020 | First edition
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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"--
Publisher: Toronto :, Bond Street Books,, [2020]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9780385695176
Branch Call Number: FIC GYA
Characteristics: 261 pages ; 25 cm


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May 13, 2021


May 02, 2021

shortlist women’s fiction. Science vs religion, opioid crisis. raves. 256 pp

Apr 21, 2021

A moving and personal story that explores question of immigrant identity, disillusionment with (evangelical) religion, addiction, and mental illness. The story brought together a lot off different threads in an interesting way, and was often touching, but I didn't find the insight or resolution I craved as a reader. Gifty's self-actualization at the end didn't quite feel believable because it seemed so remote throughout the novel. Also, as part of the story revolved around a community of lab mice that Gifty used for her study of reward and addiction, I was looking for how the author would address the issues of animals as metaphor or characters in the story, and I was disappointed that ultimately the mice are mere props or setting. I can't help but think, Gifty (and by extension, the author's) struggle to reconcile passionate evangelical religion and cold scientific objectivity, left out the whole sphere of indigenous worldview left behind in Ghana, and the overlooking of the importance of the nonhuman perspective seems a symptom of that. This novel is critical about evangelicalism, but don't expect a novel about decolonization or one that pushes against the assumptions of Western science as well. What the story does well is character and sympathetic/authentic representations of immigrant experience, illness, and addiction.

IndyPL_LindsayH Apr 14, 2021

Gifty is a woman with a purpose. She wants to find the cure for addiction and works tirelessly day and night to research it. Her brother succumbed to his addictions when he was a teenager and his death changed her family forever. Her mother falls into a deep depression and she can`t seem to move past the images of her brother`s struggle. She channels her suffering into science.

Mar 26, 2021

Gifty is a graduate student at Stanford Medical School, using her research to answer questions that have long left holes in her life. Her brother overdosed after developing an opioid addiction, and her mother was left bed-ridden with depression, and she wants to understand the brain in order to prevent this pain in other people. And as she devotes her life to science, she also grapples with her upbringing in the evangelical church.

I liked the main character, Gifty a lot, her narration felt calm and almost comforting throughout the novel, with little fluctuations for variation in mood, but overall felt fairly constant. And while I liked her as a character and I wanted to really like the plot of the novel, much like the tone of the novel, the trajectory of the plot felt very flat. I think I could've liked this book because I did really like the writing, but there just wasn't enough happening for me to latch onto.

Part of the reason I couldn't quite get into the novel was because I don't relate really at all to the religious aspect. A good part of the book is Gifty grappling with her relationship to Christianity, especially as a scientist, throughout the novel, which is an interesting conversation, but one that I felt particularly disconnected from. I think this book had the potential to be really gripping and moving, and for some people who can relate more deeply it did hit that mark, but because of the really gradual movement of any action or plot and my personal lack of relatability it wasn't for me.

Hillsboro_RobP Feb 11, 2021

A deeply personal look into the life of a 2nd generation Ghanian immigrant in the united states, her relationship with her mother, her brother's addiction, and God. An aching and heartfelt exploration of identity, mental health, spirituality and character.

JCLLisaA Feb 03, 2021

This is the first book by Gyasi I've read, but I'm eager now to read her debut novel. Transcendent Kingdom is smartly and compassionately written, a beautiful look into complicated, complex feelings and relationships. I like the parallel threads Gyasi weaves together: mother/daughter, siblings, drug addiction, professional drive, legacy, otherness.

VaughanPLRachelP Feb 02, 2021

This is such a powerful, personal novel. In Yaa Gyasi's second novel, Gifty is a neuroscience PhD student reflecting on how her science education is (or isn't) at odds with her religious upbringing, and how her childhood trauma informed her future. This novel is very introspective, written in the first person, primarily with Gifty ruminating on her past. I read this more for the experience of reading than for the plot - so if you do read more for plot, you may find it slow moving. But I thought it was just absolutely stunning.

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.

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