“…We humans are reckless with our bodies, reckless with our lives, for no other reason than that we want to know what would happen, what it might feel like to brush up against death, to run right up to the edge of our lives, which is, in some ways, to live fully.”Transcendent Kingdom, Yaa Gyasi
The premise of Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, is that it is the story of Gifty, a PHD student who conducts research on mice regarding addiction and drug dependency and her life in the United States. However, it is so much more as it is actually a story about family and what can happen when tragedy takes place in one.
I have to say I really enjoyed Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, and it’s fair to say that it captured the essence of being the child of an immigrant in the West well. I found it touching without being sentimental and would definitely recommend.
From its opening line, the book captured my attention and I loved the mix of English and Twi, a Ghanaian language spoken by my people, the Asantes.
The narrative uses flashbacks as well as present day to show the impact of the life choices that occur within Gifty’s family. For some this style of narrative may be somewhat difficult to connect with. However, for me, I enjoyed the different passages of time as it gave a gradual build up
I particularly liked the exploration of themes re loss and abandonment, as well as the examination of mental health issues (be it addiction or depression). The bonds that tie us back to inherited trauma was gently depicted and even the passing of Nana (the protagonist Gifty’s brother) was handled sensitively.
Other themes in the book included faith, religion, racism, integration and can in some ways be described as a Bildungsroman, as it is most certainly a novel which deals with one person’s formative years or spiritual education.
I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what Yaa Gyasi produces next as I imagine based on what she has produced thus far, it will be even more beautifully told.
I appreciate that she departed from historical fiction we loved in Homegoing (which I also strongly recommend) to bring it up to date in Transcendent Kingdom.
If you liked my review, or have read it and would like to discuss it with other bibliophiles, my book club Let’s Read will be discussing it on April 19th 2021, from 7.30pm BST. We will be discussing the book as well as themes raised within the book, including faith, addiction, mental health, and family
Register for your place now. It’s free and you won’t even need to leave your home to meet new people. All views are welcome.
I was lucky enough to have read this book when it was initially released in September 2020. Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi is now available to buy from your usual retailers in all formats.