Monday 22 February 2021

Book Review: Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (Contemporary Fiction)

Title: Transcendent Kingdom
Author: Yaa Gyasi
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: 4 March 2021
eBook - PDF
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

As a child Gifty would ask her parents to tell the story of their journey from Ghana to Alabama, seeking escape in myths of heroism and romance. When her father and brother succumb to the hard reality of immigrant life in the American South, their family of four becomes two - and the life Gifty dreamed of slips away.

Years later, desperate to understand the opioid addiction that destroyed her brother's life, she turns to science for answers. But when her mother comes to stay, Gifty soon learns that the roots of their tangled traumas reach farther than she ever thought. Tracing her family's story through continents and generations will take her deep into the dark heart of modern America.


Transcendent Kingdom is a thoughtful and thought-provoking read that covers many themes from immigrant life to drug abuse, pitting religion/faith against science along the way. Gifty is an interesting character and I was drawn into her world and her journey throughout the course of the story. This is very much a character piece, rather than a plot-driven tale, but as such it works well and it held my interest. I didn't always agree with Gifty, but it was fascinating to see how she came to make the choices she did. Gyasi's prose style lends itself well this type of introspective tale, and I would certainly be keen to read more from her in the future. I did struggle to relate to the religious aspects of the piece, not being that way inclined myself, and I did wonder if this book would resonate more with those who do have a faith of some kind. However, that didn't stop me enjoying the work and overall I would give it four stars.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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