Happier Podcast Book Club: “Transcendent Kingdom” by Yaa Gyasi

Gretchen holding the book Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
We’ve picked our next book for the Happier Podcast Book Club, the brilliant novel by Yaa Gyasi: Transcendent Kingdom (Amazon, Bookshop). This novel just hit the shelves, and it has immediately generated tremendous buzz. The official description (which I edited to cut out a spoiler) explains:
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 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 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.
Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel Homegoing (Amazon, Bookshop) also got a huge amount of attention. I loved it too, and it’s interesting to compare the two novels. They’re very different. If you’d like to listen to a short interview with Yaa Gyasi ahead of time, here she talks to NPR’s Scott Simon for Weekend Edition. Gretchen holding the Transcendent Kingdom book cover These days, of course, we won’t be able to meet in a studio, but through the wonders of technology Yaa Gyasi will join Elizabeth and me to talk about her novel for episode 297 airing October 28, 2020. So get reading! Or listening. Do you love audiobooks? Bahni Turpin performs the audiobook. What are your questions or insights about the book? Add them in the comments, or share them on social media using #happierpodcastbookclub, and we’ll incorporate them into the interview. Remember: whenever it is and wherever you are, there’s always a book waiting for you.
Book cover of Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi



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