In Transcendent Kingdom, the new novel by Yaa Gyasi Homecoming the author writes of Ghanaian immigrants in Alabama who search for the answers to their families suffering by turning to science and to faith. Gifty tells first dates her job is to get mice hooked on cocaine.
Shes joking she actually gets mice addicted to a nutrition drink which is cheaper.
If she can find in her mice the neural circuits that lead to addiction and depression maybe she can grasp the death of her older brother.
Though shes a character who is incredibly contradictory and is often compartmentalising and protesting the idea that her brothers death has anything to do at all with the choices that shes made career wise. Well, it drives all of her actions. Shed tell us exactly what shed done too. She was never the kind of parent who lied to make her children feel better.
And yet we see continually that she is striving for something like a cure for the disease that killed her brother. Gyasi says she had an advantage when researching the science in her book. I was very fortunate in that my best friend from Alabama is herself in neuroscience and she studies specifically the neural pathways of reward seeking.
She took me to her lab and she answered all my questions. And I got the inside track. So really this this book had a great primary source.You know similarly to Gifty I grew up Pentecostal. I had spent my whole childhood slipping teeth under my pillow at night and finding teeth there in the morning.
When I was old enough to go to big church as the kids in the childrens service called it I dreaded hearing the worship leaders warbling soprano every Sunday morning. Everyone at that church had a horrible voice. It scared me in a familiar way. Like when I was five and Nana was eleven and we found a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest. Nana scooped it into his big palms and the two of us ran home.