Yaa Gyasi’s stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national bestseller Homegoing is Transcendent Kingdom, a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama. We spoke with author Yaa Gyasi about the inspiration for the novel, her love of indie bookstores, and more.
“This is a flippin’ gorgeous book. The writing is exquisite, the story is moving, and the characters are rendered with the skill of a true artist. Can you tell that I enjoyed this?….If you need a book that is heartfelt and honest, read this one.”Izzy, bookseller at Off the Beaten Path
Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.
I was inspired to write Transcendent Kingdom by the work of my best friend, a neuroscientist who studies addiction and depression. I was fortunate enough to shadow her in her lab one day, and I found it so fascinating that I knew that I wanted to write about it. The novel takes some of her research and creates a story around it, centering a woman named Gifty whose mother comes to stay.
What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?
Independent bookstores have provided me with refuge. Booksellers across the country have championed my work and have been so very kind and generous toward me as I toured. They are the lifeblood of this industry, and I’m so thankful for them. One of the things I’ve missed most during this pandemic is browsing in my favorite indies, touching the spines, talking to the booksellers, and feeling that particular welcome that only comes from a bookstore.
Header photo by Peter Hurley/Vilcek Foundation