Yaa Gyasi’s follow-up to her debut novel is a stunner.

In “Transcendent Kingdom,” Gifty is a neuroscientist who tries to reconcile the addiction and mental illness in her family through faith and eventually research.

Ghanain-American author Gyasi slowly reveals the story of Gifty’s youth, the safety of her relationship with her big brother, her understanding what it means to be a first-generation American and the ongoing hard reality of not quite fitting in.

Gyasi’s pacing propels you through the well-packed intricacies of emotion, and she weaves her characters' gifts and resolute shortcomings through the lens of their isolation.

It's an unsentimental look at the epidemic of addiction and mental illness through the eyes of a lone survivor.

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“When I looked at her, it was hard to look past the suffering,” Gyasi writes. “My mother became a mirage. An image formed by refracted light. I moved toward her and toward her, but she never moved toward me. She was never there.”

This reader was processing the delicate weight of Gyasi’s words well after setting this one down, and I will read anything she writes from now on.

Title: “Transcendent Kingdom”

Author: Yaa Gyasi

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

Pages: 288

Melinda Lavine is a features reporter for the News Tribune. Write to her at mlavine@duluthnews.com.
Melinda Lavine is a features reporter for the News Tribune. Write to her at mlavine@duluthnews.com.