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Transcendent Kingdom

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  41,770 ratings  ·  5,733 reviews
Yaa Gyasi's stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national best seller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama.

Gifty is a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high
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Hardcover, 264 pages
Published September 1st 2020 by Knopf
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Emily This is not a pushy religious book. Gifty is raised in the Pentecostal church and considers herself to be saved as a young child, but in the fallout f…moreThis is not a pushy religious book. Gifty is raised in the Pentecostal church and considers herself to be saved as a young child, but in the fallout from Nana's addiction, particularly the response of some of their congregation members to her family's struggles, Gifty leaves the church. As an adult, she chooses to become a scientist in order to pursue the same questions her religion was unable to answer about addiction, grief, and purpose through science. Gyasi does an excellent job of portraying how you can walk away from the faith of your childhood while still yearning for some of the comfort it brings, and how belief can be ambiguous rather than absolute.(less)

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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  41,770 ratings  ·  5,733 reviews


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chai ♡
I read this book in an intense, insomniac lull and it was quite the transcendent experience.

Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply ruminative, unrelentingly searching, and immensely moving story about a young woman’s quest to find her way back to herself, and to her mother, through a thicket of ghosts crowding both their lives. Highly recommended! Read my full review on my blog: here.

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Roxane
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely transcendent. A gorgeously woven narrative about a woman trying to survive the grief of a brother lost to addiction and a mother trapped in depression while pursuing her ambitions. Not a word or idea out of place. Completely different from Homegoing. THE RANGE. I am quite angry this is so good.
Cindy
Sep 12, 2020 rated it liked it
A really sad and thoughtful piece that questions religion and science in the face of familial loss and addiction. Though the book didn’t quite hit me as hard personally, I still think there’s a lot of emotional depth within the writing and felt a lot of sympathy for the protagonist and her family. Since the book is largely composed of the protagonist’s thought process and her internal journey grappling with her faith, perhaps readers who have a closer tie to spirituality might resonate more stro ...more
Nilufer Ozmekik
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book just ruined me! I barely breathe, breaking out in sobs. I have to pull myself together! Come on, stop crying. Here comes hiccups! I have to breath in and breath out! Wow! This is one of those books ripping your heart and changing your view and your emotional state at the same time. You don’t stay as the same person. You evolve, you hurt, you grow up, you get more open minded.

This is a poignant, original, tear jerking, heart clenching story of a family who immigrated from small town of
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Maxwell
Sep 26, 2019 rated it liked it
[3.5 stars]

“What’s the point of all of this?” is a question that separates humans from other animals. Our curiosity around this issue has sparked everything from science to literature to philosophy to religion. When the answer to this question is “Because God deemed it so,” we might feel comforted. But what if the answer to this question is “I don’t know,” or worse still, “Nothing”?

Transcendent Kingdom is a story of grief, of struggling to find meaning in the seemingly meaningless. At times
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JanB
4.5 stars

”Homo sapiens is the only animal who believed he had transcended his Kingdom.”

Gifty’s parents immigrated to Alabama from Ghana before she was born, and Gifty, now in her late 20s, is a PhD candidate in neuroscience at Stanford University studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction.

Personal experience drives her quest. Nana, her brilliant brother, a rising basketball star, became addicted to opioids after a sports injury. The addiction c
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Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
I haven't read the first book by the author but once I started reading this latest release, I got completely hooked!

This is the story of Gifty who now works as a PHD candidate doing research on mice regarding addiction and drug dependence.

The story goes back and forth how she grew up with her mom, her brother and her almost absent dad. The story is centred on depression, racism and discrimination, poverty, a dysfunctional family, drug addiction, death, grief and religion.

This story is heartbre
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Tatiana
Sep 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, foreign-lands
I feel uncharitable criticizing a book so personal to the author and so relatable to me (I wish I didn't live through some, a lot of this), but I think this novel would have been better written a couple of decades later in Gyasi's career, with more perspective, life experience and knowledge.

Transcendent Kingdom reads so deeply felt when it talks about Gifty's family's struggles and complex relationships in both America and Ghana, and yet so immature and pedestrian when it tries to tackle questio
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BookOfCinz
YAA GYASI DID IT AGAIN!!!! PREPARED TO BE RUINED!

I finished reading this book four days ago and my heart is still aching. I still cannot stop thinking about the characters, about the writing about the greatness I just read. I am suffering from the biggest book hangover from one of my favorite books of 2020.

In Transcendent Kingdom Yaa Gyasi’s second novel we meet a Ghanaian family living in Alabama. The story is told from Gifty’s perspective, she takes us into the world of her immigrant fami
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Elyse  Walters
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Audiobook... read by the brilliant Bahni Turpin

Yaa Gyasi is insanely talented!!
This book shimmers from start to finish! Loved, loved, loved it!!!

Highly addictive enjoyable novel.
It’s hilarious and intimate...
sad but bouncy ....

Contemporary American life - dealing with issues of immigration, a Ghanaian family— from Alabama to California—
a look at education, God, Faith, science, religion,
growing up ( funny bone laughs), dating,
loneliness, loss, grief, guilt, racism, identity, addiction, mental
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Yun
Dec 26, 2020 rated it did not like it
According to the book jacket, Transcendent Kingdom is a "deeply moving portrait," a "profound story about race," "depression and addiction." And that's what I wanted. I wanted an interesting story that can tie these different and complex topics together and offer me insight that I can take with me long after I've finished this book. But I'm sorry to say I didn't get that.

For all these worthy topics, the book hardly devotes much effort to them. They are sprinkled haphazardly across the pages, a l
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Paris (parisperusing)
“Nana’s addiction had become the sun around which all our lives revolved. I didn’t want to stare directly at it. … She thought the problem would just go away, because what did we know about addiction? What, other than the ‘just say no campaigns,’ was there to guide any of us through the jungle of this?”

In her sophomore novel, Transcendent Kingdom, Yaa Gyasi sorely demonstrates the pressures Black youth must come to terms with when forced to “do the hardest thing,” to do more than what is humanl
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Alok Vaid-Menon
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
i’ve been friends with yaa for over decade. in college when she would deliver a poem on sunday mornings to our poetry collective, there would be this collective hush, like the world stopped rotating on its axis for a second. i hope to convince you that yaa is gravity personified. when she writes, matter follows.

applause is overrated. silence is the best response to good art. no word or sound does justice to the feeling of ground — that thing we thought was permanent — becoming dislodged beneath
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Thomas
4.5 stars

Ugh yes Yaa Gyasi has the range and I love that for her! While her debut novel Homegoing followed seven generations, in Transcendent Kingdom we delve deep into one immigrant Ghanaian family living in Alabama, in the United States. The story focuses on Gifty, a fifth-year doctoral candidate in neuroscience at Stanford whose brother died of a heroin overdose after sustaining a knee injury playing high school basketball. Soon after, Gifty’s mother tries to die by suicide, before settling i
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Elle
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
A debut like Homegoing, so massive in scope, was always going to a a difficult thing to follow. I can appreciate the pressure Gyasi was under to measure up to that book, and I think the direction she decided to go in with her sophomore novel was a smart one. Like how an actor who comes out of one distinct and identifiable role may want to pursue a next one that is completely different in order to avoid being type-cast in the future. While Homegoing was a novel spaced out over more than a half a ...more
Larry H
Sep 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars, rounded up.

Yaa Gyasi's newest novel, Transcendent Kingdom , is a beautiful, moving look at grief, faith, family, and science.

Gifty is studying for her PhD in neuroscience at Stanford. Her research deals with depression and addiction, two things she knows all too well. Her older brother Nana, a talented basketball player, died of an overdose after getting addicted to OxyContin following an injury, and her mother has been virtually bedridden with grief and depression since his death
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Paromjit
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A powerful and exquisitely written character driven novel that touches on the fundamental philosophical questions of life and family life by Yaa Gyasi. It focuses on the trauma and devastation wreaked on a Ghanaian family living in Alabama. The flawed Gifty is a Stanford PhD neuroscience researcher looking for answers to human suffering in science, looking to reconcile it with the childhood religious faith and beliefs that she grew up with in a narrative that goes back and forth in time. She is ...more
Karen
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Gifty is the narrator of this story.
She is a young woman/grad student, daughter of Ghanaian immigrants and she is studying neuroscience.. trying to find what lies at the core of human beings.
Gifty, as a young girl, was very involved in her mother’s Christian faith and wrote many letters to God about her family etc..
When she suffers the death of her older brother Nana from opioid overdose and then her mother’s nervous breakdown, her questions regarding God and the “soul” surface.
The science and e
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Ron Charles
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“I would always have something to prove,” the narrator of Yaa Gyasi’s new novel says. “Nothing but blazing brilliance would be enough to prove it.”

In such passages of mingled frustration and determination, one senses an element of autobiography.
When she was just 25, Gyasi reportedly sold her debut novel, “Homegoing,” for $1 million. It was the kind of financial windfall that whips up fawning publicity and — despite the book’s success — skepticism.

If there are any skeptics left, they can stand do
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Diane S ☔
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 A much slower, understated book than her first. Told in the first person it is also more personal, centering on one family that had come to Alabama from Ghana. Gifty is our narrator and she is now grown, working in Stanford's labs. It goes back and forth from a time when her family was complete, to the present where it is just Fifty and he mother. A mother who suffers from major depression.

The themes are many, touching on subjects both common and relatable. Mental illness, addiction, love,
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Jessica Jeffers
If, in ten years, this doesn't end up on every 'Best of the Decade' list, I don't know what to believe. This novel is astonishing and I hope it's one of the biggest books of 2020. ...more
Vicky "phenkos"
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary
4.5 stars, rounded up.

Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing was one of my favourite books of 2018 (which was when I read it although it had come out two years earlier). So, when I saw this on netgalley, I jumped at the chance of getting a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Indeed, Transcendent Kingdom does not disappoint. It is a beautifully written, heartfelt meditation on migration, addiction and broken familes.

The book tells the story of Gifty, a young Ghanaian girl born in the United States where h
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emma
clear my schedule for the rest of the week. i need at least 3 business days to stare lovingly at this cover
Nnenna
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m learning that sometimes it’s better to put a book down and come back to it. TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM was probably my most anticipated book of 2020 and I consider HOMEGOING to be one of my all-time favorite books. I was so excited when I started reading this and expectations were high. But then as I delved into the story, I saw themes that I find difficult and I was resisting. I wasn’t in the right headspace, so I put it down. I read a few books in between that suited my mood better, and then I d ...more
Barbara
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5 strong stars: I absolutely LOVED every second of listening to “Transcendent Kingdom” by Yaa Gyasi. Narrator Bahni Turpin is magnificent in her differing voices, my favorite being the voice of protagonists Gifty’s mother. Yet, this story is so amazing, so abundant with real and emotional observations, I wish I had the hard copy. Turpin gave the story life; Gyasi gave the story the complexity of humanity. There are so many passages that are notable and cause for pause.

Our narrator, Gifty, is a G
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Marialyce
Oct 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
In the book, Transcendent Kingdom, we meet a family that were from Ghana living in Alabama. The son is a gifted athlete, one who is expected to go far but then an injury sidelines him and as Oxycontin is prescribed we find him slipping away into the drug and eventually dying from a drug overdose. His father had left the family and returned to Ghana soon to forget the family left behind, and the mother suffers from depression and takes to her bed, suicidal.

Hope lies in the brilliant daughter, tas
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PorshaJo
Sep 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Rating 4.25

Honestly, I was not sure what to expect with this one. I loved Gyasi's first book, Homegoing, and it's in my top all time favorite books. Would I put such high expectations on this new one, would I love it, hate it, oh should I wait and read it? But when it arrived from my library, I was giddy and jumped right in.

Transcendent Kingdom is a story told by Gifty, a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine. Gifty tells the story of her Ghanaian family of four liv
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Nicole
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, 2020, audiobooks
Why did I pick this book? For one simple reason. I loved Homegoing. Transcendent Kingdom is nothing like it. It deals with science and religion. Gifty, the main character, questions her beliefs among other topics such as addiction origins while making experiments on mice, also race and depression, etc.

These kinds of books never appealed to me. I should’ve researched this book more but I wanted to know if it deserves my vote for the GR choice award. Nowadays, I’m reading many books that I would’
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Jenna
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
⭐️⭐️⭐️ ½    

As she did with her novel Homegoing, author Yaa Gyasi packs a lot into Transcendent Kingdom

Much of what's packed into this novel is brilliant, but I could have done without all the god-seeking. And the animal experiments.

Unfortunately, that's almost half the book right there. The rest is stunning and I love the way Ms. Gyasi writes. I love the story of Gifty and her brother Nana. I love how she reflects and remembers their childhood, how she examines Nana's descent into addiction.
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Lisa
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-favorites
[4.5] Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply contemplative novel about a young, isolated woman grappling with the trauma of her past and big philosophical questions about science and religion. Yet it does not feel heavy and ponderous. Gyasi manages what could feel forced and pedantic with a luminous touch. Gradually, Gifty became alive in these pages and I became immersed as if she were a part of my life. I wanted to hug and reassure her 28 year old self. A beautiful, true novel.
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YAA GYASI was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she held a Dean's Graduate Research Fellowship. She lives in Brooklyn.

YAA GYASI is available for select speaking engagements. To inquire about a possible appearance, please contact Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau at speakers@pengui
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Articles featuring this book

  Every December, as we wrap up our annual Goodreads Reading Challenge, we ask our book-loving colleagues a simple yet incredibly tough...
177 likes · 322 comments
“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. That’s science, but that’s also everything else, isn’t it? Try. Experiment. Ask a ton of questions.” 38 likes
“If I've thought of my mother as callous, and many times I have, then it is important to remember what a callus is: the hardened tissue that forms over a wound.” 32 likes
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