Gyasi’s style here is especially striking ... Some readers of Transcendent Kingdom may miss the romantic sweep of that novel and the momentum Gyasi achieved by leaping a generation and a continent every few chapters. If Homegoing progressed in more or less linear fashion, in this book narrative time is more relative ... the picture of mental illness in Transcendent Kingdom is darker and more nuanced ... Transcendent Kingdom trades the blazing brilliance of Homegoing for another type of glory, more granular and difficult to name.
Homegoing wasn’t beginner’s luck. Gyasi’s new novel, Transcendent Kingdom, is a book of blazing brilliance. What’s more, it’s entirely unlike Homegoing ...still and ruminative — a novel of profound scientific and spiritual reflection that recalls the works of Richard Powers and Marilynne Robinson ... Not that there’s anything derivative about this story. Indeed, Gyasi’s ability to interrogate medical and religious issues in the context of America’s fraught racial environment makes her one of the most enlightening novelists writing today ... A double helix of wisdom and rage twists through the quiet lines of this novel ... remarkable.
Ms. Gyasi has trained her ambitions inward, applying the same rigorous attention to the quality of her sentences and to the laser-like interrogation of her themes. She has produced a powerful, wholly unsentimental novel about family love, loss, belonging and belief that is more focused but just as daring as its predecessor, and to my mind even more successful ... The narrative of difficult, immigrant striving is derailed by a slow-motion tragedy ... Unlike many novels centered on suffering, Ms. Gyasi’s book is not interested in eliciting sympathy or activating the reader’s guilt. It is, instead, burningly dedicated to the question of meaning ... confidently shuttles between the poles of faith and science—it quotes the Bible as fluently as it discusses neural circuits in the medial prefrontal cortex—plumbing each for comforts and insights but also dispassionately studying the ways that each falls short ... a hard, beautiful, diamantine luster.
Gyasi’s prose is often characterised by methodical language mixed with a tone of paralysing despair ... The novel is suspended by this tension between the desire to know and the recognition that human behaviour cannot be fully explained by formulas. There is a risk in novels that use scientific themes and language that they become emotionally sterile. This is not the case with Transcendent Kingdom. Nana’s self-destruction is affecting to read. Their mother’s brusque attitude to the family and wider society is funny, especially to those familiar with older west African women. And the friendship between Gifty and her fellow scientist Katherine is depicted with genuine tenderness. This novel is an unflinching account of loss, but it is also a moving tribute to the ability of the human spirit to endure such tragedies.
The question here is how we bear witness to shared realities while avoiding the traps of stereotype. Animated by this wariness, Transcendent Kingdom is less a search for origins than it is a study of origin stories and the ways they can be wielded against people, particularly ones who grew up poor and Black ... Transcendent Kingdom exudes a bone-deep exhaustion with having to explain one’s background. Sad origin stories seem to Gifty little more than grist for fitting one’s life into a neat arc for others’ consumption ... Despite a change in scope, in Transcendent Kingdom Gyasi is still plumbing the questions that guided Homegoing. Gyasi has returned to her roots, and they run deeper now.
Gyasi tackles a complex web of themes, weaving together a story that inches toward a quiet redemption. Along the way, it is a joy simply to delight in the language she uses in her close observation of life, the quotidian details made fresh ... She has found that right, clearest sound, and it is transcendent.
Gyasi excels at showing the interwoven nature of these evils [racism and prescription drug culture] and the stress they place on Black lives ... While these themes may not make for the lightest read, there is hope in Gifty’s journey and a call for empathy ... Gyasi’s portrayal of Gifty's spiritual journey is refreshing in that a negative experience with her church does not cause her to reject Christianity altogether, though she wrestles mightily with her faith ... Just as Gyasi unflinchingly spotlights the failures of evangelicalism, she casts an equally critical eye on the knee-jerk scorn with which atheists can sometimes treat religion ... Gifty’s relationship with her mother is also unusual and deeply affecting ... The only weakness of Transcendent Kingdom comes at its rather too-tidy conclusion, but this is a slight quibble in a novel that insightfully explores many pressing issues of our time, and in marrying science with faith, explores the limits and possibilities of both.
... sensitively tackles the subject of how mental illness and therapy in particular is still frowned upon and very much a taboo subject among ethnic communities ... broaches the divide between neuroscience and psychology with shrewd clear sightedness ... One of the most appealing things about the narrative, which might be attributed to her scrupulously objective mind, is how self-aware and discerning our protagonist is about her various foibles...However, as most introspective narratives go, this style runs the risk of being discursive ... Gifty’s narration as a high-achieving Black neuroscientist, an anomaly in itself, highlights the prejudice against women in the field of scientific research ... Gyasi manages the uphill task of not only meeting the expectations of her best seller debut, but also surpassing it. Transcendent Kingdom is an evocative portrayal of the immigrant experience and an astutely written character study of an individual reconciling with her past, along with her struggle with faith and science.
Gyasi’s novel illustrates how meaning accrues, not in tidy lessons, but indirectly through experience and association ... ecstatic passages appear throughout the novel, lightening otherwise somber subject matter ... Transcendent Kingdom, Gyasi’s sophomore effort, appears to be a radical departure from her debut, Homegoing, which follows the disparate fates of two branches of an African family. What unites the novels is the author’s presiding belief in the irreducible wonder of the world, a realm that, in a line from Gerard Manley Hopkins that Gyasi uses as an epigraph, 'is charged with the grandeur of God.'
... presses hard against your chest, a literary confluence of loss and the undying miracle of human resilience ... Gyasi creates characters that are fully human: real people with real pain, schoolgirl journals filled with years of entries addressed to God, smell-induced memories that haunt. Gyasi writes about life as it is lived, in the details ... Through Gyasi’s fantastic interplay of scientific study and life-spanning narrative, she crafts a character who, like so many who have taken a step back from their faith, does not simply or stubbornly 'fell the long-growing tree of her belief' without a struggle ... The book is as much a tale of devastation and growing-up-too-fast resolve as it is the shadow sibling of a psalm. Bone-deep, involving metaphors that strike poetry’s best chords, Gyasi’s prose aims with raw precision. To pick this book up is to suffer with its inhabitants, to step intimately towards the compassion that Gifty feels throughout ... Come to Gyasi, all you who are weary and burdened, and she will give you heartbreak, the reminder that people are not alone in their ache and grief—that a transcendent kingdom of unfathomable connection is alive and well among us. She may prove to be one of the most important writers of our time, one who can stitch the spiritual and the sociological together in storytelling that just might deepen our kinship as one humanity that calls us forth, like the Lazarus she ponders, from the deep, dark tunnel of our estrangement.
... a stealthily devastating novel of family, faith and identity that’s as philosophical as it is personal ... The first-person narration deftly hops through time, the details of Gifty’s past informing our understanding of her present ... Gifty’s voice is restrained and matter-of-fact. She speaks with the remove of a clinician, observing her thoughts and feelings with the same reserve as she does her mice. She dissects to understand. Her guarded control doesn’t lessen the reader’s connection to Gifty; it only intensifies the story’s emotional wallop ... It’s bravura storytelling by Gyasi ... The range Gyasi displays in just two books is staggering ... Gifty may not ultimately make sense of the soul in her scientific experiments, but Gyasi does through her art ... makes so much meaning.
... contemporary, personal, acutely focussed on a single family, and intensely felt, where [Gyasi's] début was wide and symphonic, its sympathies scored for many parts ... The two characters at the heart of the novel, Gifty and her mother, nicknamed by her daughter the Black Mamba, are at once blazingly interesting and, by authorial design, frustratingly opaque, for both are studies in repression ... The novel is full of brilliantly revealing moments, sometimes funny, often poignant ... One of the most interesting aspects of this novel is, in fact, that its narrator is not an especially sympathetic character. Gifty, whose repressions and cruelties eerily mirror her mother’s, isn’t by any means a systematically unreliable narrator, but she is unreliable enough to remain provokingly vital. That her rigid self-fashioning represents an escape from grief is something that she acknowledges; the subtle question the novel raises is what unacknowledged shame she is also fleeing ... Unfortunately, Transcendent Kingdom has a few shilling-size spots of its own—areas that the book refuses to see with clarity, and in ways that are not suggestive but bewildering. Most important, Nana’s downfall remains blurred and somewhat generic...Perhaps a fall into addiction is all too often a fall into formula, yet it seems important for the novelist to search for the nonformulaic, the brutally specific ... We are hardly surprised when Nana punches a hole in the wall and smashes the TV: a continuation of the familiar gestures. At those moments when Gyasi’s prose is summoned to intense specificity, it smears into cliché ... Cliché is our original sin, the thing we all try to escape, but the offense is not merely aesthetic or musical; it is epistemological—cliché blocks our apprehension of reality. In place of singularity, it substitutes commonality; in place of the private oddity, it offers the shared obviousness. What is striking is that words fail the novel at those moments when it is most critical that they succeed. Is it too speculative to suggest a failure of authorial nerve here, as if, for Gyasi, the most burning material cannot quite be stared at? One sometimes has the sense, here and in Homegoing, of the great pain of her chosen subject matter—slavery, addiction, suicide—being soothed into the generic ... This is not so much lazy writing as escapist writing; the prose seems to swerve away from direct confrontation and to settle, instead, for genre ... One of the strengths of the book is the way it follows Gifty’s difficulty in abandoning the vestiges of her Christian belief ... We don’t need this novel to be in the business of transcending problems when, in its wide fictional kingdom, it has been so acute in laying them bare.
... elegant ... while shame and pain lurk beneath Gifty’s memories of her family, the measured restraint of Gyasi’s prose makes the story’s challenging questions all the more potent ... Transcendent Kingdom burrows into the philosophical, exploring with complexity what it might mean for us to live without firm answers to the mysteries that wound us.
... achingly lovely ... with her sophomore novel, Gyasi is narrowing her scope. Transcendent Kingdom is the story of one specific girl in one specific family: It is interior, psychological, and deeply focused on sifting through the layers of Gifty’s mind as she studies and prays and experiments to try to find her way to what lies at the core of human beings ... This is a quiet, ruminative story, proceeding through its ideas as carefully and deliberately as cautious Gifty proceeds when she makes her way through an experiment. Its intensity crept up on me slowly, so that I found myself registering Gyasi’s most startling images only after I had closed the book and saw them lingering behind my eyes hours later. The quietness is deceptive: Underneath all that deliberation, there’s someone screaming ... The pleasure of Transcendent Kingdom comes from peeling back all that deliberation, or perhaps more accurately, dissolving it, the way Gifty dissolved an eggshell in vinegar during her first practical science experiment. Once all the protective tissue is gone, there is the bare and quivering yolk. It’s the soul of the egg, revealed to us at last.
Gifty’s research reflects the central question one asks when someone they love falls into the patterns Gyasi illustrates with such raw accuracy ... The writing is impeccable; the reader never goes so far between chronological chapters that they forget what’s happening. Each event feeds into the next, springing from her childhood in rural Alabama to her summer in Ghana to her failed relationships to now—her mother stagnating in her bed and their altered relationship an almost tangible weight on Gifty’s chest. The distance that’s so prevalent between herself and everyone she’s ever known and loved is defined by each new piece, each new event ... a thousand-piece puzzle, a masterpiece, a work of grit. It is painful and beautiful but, ultimately, it is human. This book is about Gifty’s journey to discover the answers to the questions her brother and mother left her with and the fact that, without realizing it, she was seeking transcendence. Her work seeks to dismantle the crippling aspects of humanity and though it is an admirable goal, it never gave her the true answers she was searching for. There are some things that religion or science can’t provide the answers to, and Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Kingdom illustrates the processes and pain that accompanies searching for those answers inside yourself.
If you read one book that comes out in 2020, please let it be Yaa Gyasi's second novel ... Multilayered and beautifully written ... Although reading about opioid addiction can be incredibly hard, writing about it is much harder ... Methodical and highly organized by nature, Gifty's character approaches the issues she's grappling with head on, which make for an all-encompassing read. Because Gifty doesn't loudly project her emotions, it leaves the reader space to fill in the blanks ... Truly a compelling read that you'll think about for weeks to come, Transcendent Kingdom illustrates that life is messy, painful, and sometimes, utterly beautiful. Furthermore, Gyasi weaves in so many metaphysical questions throughout the pages, it will have you pondering about the aspects of life we take for granted.
... both accessible and urgent ... With its many quietly shifting parts, Transcendent Kingdom showcases the complex elements of Gifty’s identity to bring visibility to the immigrant consciousness in America ... The novel deftly intersperses Gifty’s adult voice with snippets of her childhood journal, allowing the reader to remain fully invested in both her youthful religiosity and her contemporary skeptical empiricism. Moving through both time and physical space, the tensions of science and religion begin to tighten, propelling the narrative with a pace that novels of such scope rarely possess ... a soaring, individual work of fiction: Gyasi can seemingly hold all truths, all withs and withouts, in a single narrative. Isn’t that, Gyasi seems to be saying, the task of an immigrant in America — to hold complex, contradictory truths about belonging, home, and memory? ... What is brilliant about Transcendent Kingdom, besides the clear and sweeping prose, is that its existence addresses young Gifty’s shame in her multifaceted identity as a Black immigrant by acknowledging and recounting her past ... Gyasi’s narrative provides an act of seeing, a kind of visibility, to the narrative of Black immigrants in America. The novel thus acknowledges Gifty’s identity, sees the enormity of her life and her experiences and through recitation of those experiences, exhibits care and interest in her story ... By giving readers a character grappling with conflicting identities, we are able to fully appreciate the complexity of our world. Through Gifty we can see that there is no in-between when it comes to identities; there are only the stories that we are familiar with, and the stories that we are not. By giving readers Gifty, Gyasi broadens the stories American readers are used to, providing representation for Black immigrants where it is so desperately needed ... In providing a platform to narratives that represent fully the lives of those who appear to be on the fringes of America, Gyasi allows readers to engage in an act of seeing that places Gifty’s story in the middle of our literary consciousness, right where it should be.
Gyasi is a beautiful writer, and this novel is wonderfully layered. She wrestles with the big questions of life — death, grief, faith, hope, family, home, hate — in a way that is both accessible and complex. This deep look into the mind and heart of a Black immigrant family’s experience in America is rich and thought-provoking ... Gyasi’s exploration of racism is striking in both its subtly and pervasiveness, as well in the underlying tension it creates as events unfold ... Gyasi’s character development, voice and style are those of a gifted writer. It is a pleasure to read the words of a master. Readers of literary, character-driven novels will find Transcendent Kingdom an exquisite, fascinating work.
... superbly nuanced ... In this remarkable narrative that is at once beautifully lucid and brimming with emotional complexity, Gyasi examines and challenges the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding addiction and mental health while asking philosophical questions about the power and limits of faith, science and redemption.
... a masterpiece of scope and depth, an elucidation of generational inheritance made personal ... an entirely new approach, yet [Gyasi] shines equally as bright, if not brighter, demonstrating her impressive range and profound skill as a storyteller ... This is a masterful work that surely will be recognized as one of the most splendid and sublime literary novels of the year, if not the decade. Within a propulsively readable, relatively short page count, Gyasi weaves a compelling tapestry of ideas and questions that are universally relatable, presented in a crucially specific, original narrative. She explores Gifty’s changing relationship with God and the Bible from such a place of compassion --- of grace and grief, sin and suffering, and the shifting shape of love ... Gyasi’s keen eye radiates here, along with her inviting voice and the magic precision of her sentences. Each is a masterpiece in its own right, and the book feels fresh ... From this trap, this purgatory, this tearing liminality, Gyasi writes a wreck and a wonder ... so well-measured and exquisitely drawn. There is not a word, a sentence or an idea out of place. The subject matter is complex and heavy, but the world of this book is so well-imagined --- brilliant, spare and expansive at once. It’s thoroughly satisfying, and Gyasi’s nimble writing makes this feat feel effortless. This is a deftly crafted, resplendent work that is defiant, devastating, hopeful and true.
Gyasi, who herself was born in Ghana and grew up in Alabama, examines the dream and the struggle with total equanimity. She has written about ambivalence and estrangement and yearning with such weight, only an unfaltering voice like Gifty’s can make it bearable. Transcendent Kingdom honors the stranger, and in doing so, we recognize ourselves.
... haunting ... astute and timely ... This is a novel for the moment in ways Gyasi couldn’t have possibly anticipated ... Gyasi powerfully captures Nana’s slide into addiction, and the ways his loved ones grapple helplessly with that descent ... With a surgeon’s precision, Gyasi slices open the ways racist attitudes overlay and complicate Gifty’s once fervent faith in God vis-à-vis evangelicalism ... Animal activists be warned: The detailed account of the narrator’s experiments on mice are unflinching ... I admit, however, that my eyes sometimes glazed over the scientific terms that populate the text ... Yet the novel beautifully examines the hardships created by abandonment and displacement, and the attendant shame that comes from both; this motif is conveyed via a vivid Ghanaian-immigrant world, steeped in its own stew of American promise and failure. And so, it’s okay that the novel conveniently gives Gifty a life partner in a courtship that happens off-camera as a tidy plot point. This slim book’s ambitious and compelling interest is in greater relationships than mere romantic ones. In fact, the novel itself is one long meditation on life’s big themes of love and loss, and one woman’s quest to understand the human condition as she grapples with both.
In her second novel, Transcendent Kingdom, Gyasi returns more forthrightly to her original subject of mothers and daughters, using that relationship to explore the intersection of faith, culture, and science ... a sensitive and propulsive story that reveals how differently individuals, even those in the same family, seek salvation ... At times, Transcendent Kingdom leans heavily on expository writing, not fully trusting its readers to connect the details in Gifty’s life to the novel’s themes ... The novel encouraged, at least for me, a personal reckoning ... Sometimes the strength of a novel is found in more than just its artful execution or its formalist experiment; it’s found in how it helps you articulate a feeling that you’ve held in your chest for years
... superbly written ... [Gifty] is allowed all her preoccupations, small and big; she is a Black immigrant-type character who contains multitudes — and in today’s world, this remains a very good and relevant thing ... The narrative toggles back and forth in time and place, a style reminiscent of Gyasi’s bestselling debut novel, Homegoing, with its epic, familial span on the lives of two Ghanaian half-sisters. Some might find the effect dizzying, but Gyasi’s mastery at storytelling — cool, calculated, and confident like her rising neuroscientist narrator — holds our interest, drawing us into the eye of the psychological storm ... By the end of the novel, the reader — like Gifty — is left a little wiser and smarter but also no less attuned to the complexities of human life on this Earth.
... profoundly moving ... Through deliberate and precise prose, the book becomes an expansive meditation on grief, religion, and family. But it is also a sensitively rendered examination of mental illness and addiction, and the uneasy space these inhabit in an African immigrant family ... There were many directions this premise could have taken. It could have pivoted around the racism that she and her family had to endure from the community as a whole and from their fellow church members. But what Gyasi does is drag that other monstrous affliction, drug addiction, into the light and what unfolds is an unexpected and revelatory examination of its many destructive consequences — including mental illness — for a Black family in a predominantly white town ... This novel, meticulous and compassionate in its inquiries, brings us intimately close to that suffering, and then asks us not to look away.
... is itself transcendent. Tragedy coexists with hope. Hope exists only due to the astonishing intelligence and determination of the main character. The book tells the story of an immigrant family from Ghana. It is also an absorbing rumination on the role of science, religion, racism, addiction, depression and spirituality in shaping human lives ... The novel’s power derives not just from its beautiful prose, but its emotional intimacy. Gifty deciphers her family’s tragedies and ponders her relationship with her brave, but broken mother. Gifty’s story is a journey of reflection and healing ... allows us to witness the bittersweet peace that comes from her hard-won understanding.
... a piercing story of faith, science and the opioid crisis ... the heat and faith of the deep south shimmer on the page, localising the immigrant experience ... it’s in its heroine’s frank efforts to defuse the dichotomy between religion and science that Transcendent Kingdom really sings. There’s bravery as well as beauty here ... There’s also the novel’s back-and-forth structure, which can become repetitive, sapping its momentum, and a brisk addendum feels at once too much and too little. All the same, these are relatively small quibbles when stacked against the successes of a narrative that contrives to be intimate and philosophical.
This novel crafts a raw analysis of religion, mental illness, and addiction through the lens of a uniquely authentic character ... Gifty’s childhood allows Gyasi to project deeply philosophical reflections upon her character. The dimensionality of Gifty’s perspectives make her character so incredibly convincing that it's hard to believe that this is a novel to begin with ... a story that will stick with you. It won’t fill your mind with wonder and adornment for the strength of the characters, but it is undeniably heart-breaking, and it will give you the opportunity to reflect. Gyasi’s writing forces us to reconsider the notions we hold about sensitive topics like addiction and mental illness ... Although Gifty is a complex and uncommon character, her struggles can easily be resonated with and that opens the window for self-reflection. She even went to Harvard for her undergraduate degree, and while her experiences are fictional, she comes off as your average Harvard student. Beyond that, her childhood as the daughter of an immigrant family is an accurate and poignant illustration that many can identify with ... does have specific and distinct characters, but that should not deter anyone from reading this novel. For those looking for an exciting and thrilling plot, this may not be a great fit. There is great rhythm in the writing, but it is more of a slow-burn, especially towards the middle ... the discussion of Christianity is not a jaded one, nor is it biased. Rather, it offers an insight into the place that religion has in a scientific world, where the ends of scientific inquiry often turn to philosophy ... [Gyasi] succeeds tremendously in portraying a character rich in depth, emotion, and determination that is unlike much else out there.
For Gyasi to write a novel strong enough to follow her highly acclaimed debut Homegoing, she had to create the diamond that is Transcendent Kingdom ... When it arrived, I swan-dived into its pages, into a story that moves with speed, heart, and scientific passion ... Gyasi’s brilliance is seen in the way she structures the narrative ... Gyasi creates a narrator who connects with the reader, mirroring the lens we use to evaluate the story. Gifty’s power as a character, and as a protagonist with whom many readers will relate, comes from the way she’s been forged under pressure. The structural brilliance of Gyasi’s novel is found in each chapter’s reveal, which contains a necessary piece to complete—rather than solve—the proverbial larger puzzle of the story. Gyasi bestows remarkable trust and authority in her narrator, then allows Gifty to demonstrate how the human brain is more than a computer that runs programs. Gyasi’s Kingdom has no easy answers, only the hopeful purity of Gifty’s voice. In the end, this is more than enough.
Gyasi is, for the most part, gentle with her narrator, gentler than Gifty is with herself. She seems less interested in cross-examining her, or in having fun at her expense, than in building a layered and complex picture of her character ... But Gyasi never allows the tone to dissolve into anything as straightforward as shame ... In a neat conclusion that jumps forward to show her happily married and running her own lab at Princeton, Gifty tells us that, thanks to her experiments, she understands ‘transcendence, holiness, redemption’. It seems a little convenient.
Consider the perpetual inner turmoil that might plague a scientist brought up in religious instruction ... That dichotomy is at the heart of Transcendent Kingdom, Yaa Gyasi’s follow-up to her debut novel, Homegoing. Rather than create another multigenerational saga, Ms. Gyasi has written a more intimate book that’s an intellectual study of a complex scientific topic and a heartbreaking account of family tragedy ... What makes Ms. Gyasi’s book so profound is Gifty’s more personal goal: to understand her mother’s source of strength and to reconcile her own feelings about religion. The novel is at its strongest in its more philosophical moments ... In this exceptional book, Ms. Gyasi shows that neither a religious nor a scientific mindset can prevent every jolt.
Despite its focus on a single family, Transcendent Kingdom has an expansive scope that ranges into fresh, relevant territories—much like the title, which suggests a better world beyond the life we inhabit.
Though it’s a departure from her gorgeous historical debut...Gyasi’s contemporary novel of a woman’s struggle for connection in a place where science and faith are at odds is a piercingly beautiful tale of love and forgiveness.
Despite compounding challenges and tragedies, Gyasi never allows Gifty to devolve into paralyzing self-absorption and malaise. With deft agility and undeniable artistry, Gyasi’s latest is an eloquent examination of resilient survival.
In 54 microchapters and precise prose, Gyasi creates an ache of recognition, especially for readers knowledgeable about the wreckage of addiction. Still, she leavens this nonlinear novel with sly humor ... The author is astute about childhood grandiosity and a pious girl’s deep desire to be good; she conveys in brief strokes the notched, nodding hook of heroin’s oblivion ... Nowhere does Gyasi take a cheap shot. Instead, she writes a final chapter that gives readers a taste of hard-won deliverance. In a quietly poignant story, a lonely woman finds a way to be less alone.
Gyasi’s meticulous, psychologically complex second novel (after Homegoing) examines the consequences of a Ghanian family’s immigration to Huntsville, Ala. ... Gyasi’s constraint renders the emotional impact of the novel all the more powerful: her descriptions of the casual racism endured by the family, particularly at the hands of their nearly all-white church in Alabama, is more chilling for being so matter-of-fact. 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.