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Transcendent Kingdom

Yaa Gyasi

Top 10 Best Quotes

“The truth is we don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t even know the questions we need to ask in order to find out, but when we learn one tiny little thing, a dim light comes on in a dark hallway, and suddenly a new question appears. We spend decades, centuries, millennia, trying to answer that one question so that another dim light will come on. That’s science, but that’s also everything else, isn’t it? Try. Experiment. Ask a ton of questions.”

“If I've thought of my mother as callous, and many times I have, then it is important to remember what a callus is: the hardened tissue that forms over a wound.”

“It took me many years to realize that it’s hard to live in this world. I don’t mean the mechanics of living, because for most of us, our hearts will beat, our lungs will take in oxygen, without us doing anything at all to tell them to. For most of us, mechanically, physically, it’s harder to die than it is to live. But still we try to die. We drive too fast down winding roads, we have sex with strangers without wearing protection, we drink, we use drugs. We try to squeeze a little more life out of our lives. It’s natural to want to do that. But to be alive in the world, every day, as we are given more and more and more, as the nature of “what we can handle” changes and our methods for how we handle it change, too, that’s something of a miracle.”

“My memories of him, though few, are mostly pleasant, but memories of people you hardly know are often permitted a kind of pleasantness in their absence. It's those who stay who are judged the harshest, simply by virtue of being around to be judged.”

“We read the Bible how we want to read it. It doesn't change, but we do.”

“...We humans are reckless with our bodies, reckless with our lives, for no other reason than that we want to know what would happen, what it might feel like to brush up against death, to run right up to the edge of our lives, which is, in some ways, to live fully.”

“The thing is we don't need to change our brains at all. Time does so much of the emptying for us.Live long enough and you'll forget almost everything you thought you'd always remember.”

“Anytime I talk about my work informally, I inevitably encounter someone who wants to know why addicts become addicts. They use words like “will” and “choice,” and they end by saying, “Don’t you think there’s more to it than the brain?” They are skeptical of the rhetoric of addiction as disease, something akin to high blood pressure or diabetes, and I get that. What they’re really saying is that they may have partied in high school and college but look at them now. Look how strong-willed they are, how many good choices they’ve made. They want reassurances. They want to believe that they have been loved enough and have raised their children well enough that the things that I research will never, ever touch their own lives. I understand this impulse. I, too, have spent years creating my little moat of good deeds in an attempt to protect the castle of myself. I don’t want to be dismissed the way that Nana was once dismissed. I know that it’s easier to say Their kind does seem to have a taste for drugs, easier to write all addicts off as bad and weak-willed people, than it is to look closely at the nature of their suffering. I do it too, sometimes. I judge. I walk around with my chest puffed out, making sure hat everyone knows about my Harvard and Stanford degrees, as if those things encapsulate me, and when I do so, I give in to the same facile, lazy thinking that characterizes those who think of addicts as horrible people. It’s just that I’m standing on the other side of the moat. What I can say for certain is that there is no case study in the world that could capture the whole animal of my brother, that could show how smart and kind and generous he was, how much he wanted to get better, how much he wanted to live. Forget for a moment what he looked like on paper, and instead see him as he was in all of his glory, in all of his beauty. It’s true that for years before he died, I would look at his face and think, What a pity, what a waste. But the waste was my own, the waste was what I missed out on whenever I looked at him and saw just his addiction.”

“But the memory lingered, the lesson I have never quite been able to shake: that I would always have something to prove and that nothing but blazing brilliance would be enough to prove it.”

“Surely, there's strength in being dressed for a storm, even when there's no storm in sight?”

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Book Keywords:

ghana, neuroscience, family-relationships, black-women, inspirational, family-drama, literary-fiction, transcendent-kingdom, fiction, yaa-gyasi, immigrant

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