I bought Transcendent Kingdom at CGK (Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta) last year, before going on a holiday at Labuan Bajo with Rafida Adventure. I’m very interested in Yaa Gyasi, a Ghanaian-American author. One of the main issues in the book is a brother who struggles with substance-abuse, so that caught my eye also.
I’m glad I ended up NOT reading it that holiday because LOOK IT AIN’T NO HOLIDAY BOOK. I ended up reading through The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer that holiday. PHEW that was a better choice for the occasion.
But this year, for Lebaran (Idul Fitri holidays) we decided to stay inside. Plus, I’ve picked up the wonderful hobby of annotating (thanks to the wonderful influences of bookstagrammer @yourstrullyjulietta). I don’t have that many physical books since I mostly read on my Kindle, but Transcendent Kingdom has been sitting there for a year so I said: alright. It is time. Let us do this.
Transcendent Kingdom is about Gifty, a Ghanaian-American scientist narrating through her childhood and growing up experiences as a black, conservative evangelical Christian in Alabama, whose father walks out on the family, brother struggles with substance abuse issues, and mother gets severe depression: anhedonia. Just by that alone you know it’s not going to be an easy book. The emotional damage was so intense I had to eat painkillers afterwards.
Needless to say, I wouldn’t recommend this book for everyone. The writing is great (brutal, really), but just like The Weight of Our Sky by Malaysian author Hanna Alkaf, please make sure you’re completely ready to begin the journey. Make sure you’re in an okay state of mind, absolutely knowing it’s gonna hurt even still.
The way the author goes about Christianity makes me wonder what people of other beliefs would experience if they read Transcendent Kingdom. There are a lot of references to Bible verses. Many scenes are from Southern Church culture, and I think it can really be up in your face at times.
I’m glad Yaa Gyasi wrote Transcendent Kingdom, because it helped me process some of the painful things in my life. If you personally deal with any of the issues above then I think this book will speak to your soul as well.