Recommended reading: ‘Transcendent Kingdom’

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

“Transcendent Kingdom” by Yaa Gyasi

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.


“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 mugshot with wings.jpg
Melinda Lavine is a features reporter for the News Tribune. Write to her at

Related Topics: BOOKS
Melinda Lavine is an award-winning, multidisciplinary journalist with 16 years professional experience. She joined the Duluth News Tribune in 2014, and today, she writes about the heartbeat of our community: the people.

Melinda grew up in central North Dakota, a first-generation American and the daughter of a military dad.

She earned bachelors degrees in English and Communications from the University of North Dakota in 2006, and started her career at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald that summer. She helped launch the Herald's features section, as the editor, before moving north to do the same at the DNT.

Contact her: 218-723-5346,
What To Read Next
The Minneapolis show is the 20th stop of the 41-show tour of her "Renaissance World Tour," bringing a live taste of her latest album to 40 cities in North America and Europe.
The actor, known for portraying Shirley Feeney on the "Happy Days" spinoff died Jan. 25 after a brief illness, her family said.
Rob Hadaway will be celebrated through the annual festival he created.
Find something to do this week in the Northland.