“A character study set at the intersection of seemingly disparate entities (faith and science, for example), this book is soulful, slow-building, philosophical literary fiction at its best.
Gifty is a reasoned woman of science, a child of Evangelicalism, and a person carrying the traumas of her family (addiction, depression, racism, abandonment, loss, etc) in her bones. Her research on addiction and reward unfolds alongside memories of her childhood and the crisis of her family as she attempts to distill each to a singular cause and effect.
The answer she seeks is to a question we all ask of our lives: why?”
Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at the Stanford University School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after an ankle injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family’s loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive.
Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief—a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi’s phenomenal debut.