In Conversation: On Transcendent Kingdom

Book purchase required for admittance to this program; click here to purchase. American Book Award winner Yaa Gyasi’s novel Transcendent Kingdom – praised by author Ann Patchett as possessing “splendor […]


In Conversation: On Transcendent Kingdom

Authors:Nell Freudenberger, Yaa Gyasi


Book purchase required for admittance to this program; click here to purchase.

American Book Award winner Yaa Gyasi’s novel Transcendent Kingdom – praised by author Ann Patchett as possessing “splendor and heart and insight and brilliance” – is a moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression, addiction and grief, and a novel about faith, science, religion, and love. She is joined by New York Times book reviewer and author Nell Freudenberger, whose Lost and Wanted is a story of friends and lovers, science and spirituality, and bonds that show their power in surprising ways.

Book purchase required for admittance to this program; click here to purchase.

Nell Freudenberger

Nell Freudenberger is the author of the novels The Newlyweds and The Dissident, and of the story collection Lucky Girls. In Lost and Wanted (Knopf) we meet Helen Clapp. Her breakthrough work on five-dimensional spacetime landed her a tenured professorship at MIT; her popular books explain physics in plain terms. Helen disdains notions of the supernatural. She prefers rational thought and proven ideas. So it’s especially vexing for her when, on an otherwise unremarkable Wednesday in June, she gets a phone call from Charlotte Boyce, a friend and Helen’s roommate at Harvard, who has just died. They once shared Helen’s struggles as a young woman in science, Charlie’s as a black screenwriter in Hollywood, their challenges as parents. But over time, Charlie became more elusive, and her calls came less and less often. And now she’s permanently, tragically gone.

As Helen is drawn back into Charlie’s orbit, and also into the web of feelings she once had for a former college classmate now, she is forced to question the laws of the universe that had always steadied her mind and heart. Richard Powers in The New York Times Book Review called it “A marvelous depiction of the direct link between the body’s cravings and the passions of the mind.”

Yaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. Her debut novel, Homegoing, published in 2016, won her several awards including the PEN/Hemingway Award for a first book of fiction, and the American Book Award. Transcendent Kingdom (Knopf) is a moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression, addiction and grief — a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at the Stanford University School of Medicine studying the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, once a gifted high school athlete, died of a heroin overdose after an ankle injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. But even as Gifty turns to science to unlock the mystery of her family’s suffering, she hungers for her childhood faith. Its promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive. Publishers Weekly praised it as “Meticulous, psychologically complex…At once a vivid evocation of the immigrant experience and a sharp delineation of an individual’s inner struggle, the novel brilliantly succeeds on both counts.”

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