WALLINGFORD — The citywide library’s annual reading program kicked off on Wednesday with the reveal of this year’s book selection, “Transcendent Kingdom” by Yaa Gyasi.
About 25 Wallingford Public Library staff and members of the public gathered for the reveal of the One Book, One Wallingford pick. About 15 other people watched online.
The event included a video tour of Gyasi, the opportunity to purchase a copy of the book, and the announcement of a series of book selection events.
The goal of One Book, One Wallingford is to connect people in the community through shared reading and discussion of the same book. The annual program includes presentations, public programs, and book discussions throughout February and March, culminating in an author visit and book signing with Gyasi on April 4.
Gyasi is a Ghanaian-American novelist raised in Huntsville, Alabama, currently living in Brooklyn, New York. Her first novel, “Homegoing”, was a national bestseller and won numerous awards.
“Transcendent Kingdom” is a 288-page fiction book published in September 2020 by the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House.
The story is told by Gifty, a 28-year-old doctor. candidate for Stanford University – Gyasi’s alma case – according to a library statement.
Gifty’s obsessive focus on her research was diverted because her mother came to stay, after having a relapse of the severe depression she had struggled with since the overdose death of Gifty’s beloved older brother. This visit disrupts Gifty’s carefully calibrated world, forcing her to confront the traumatic memories she has been trying to avoid.
Religion was her mother’s source of comfort, but Gifty turned her back, driven to atheism by science, and to science by her high school biology teacher’s belief that Homo sapiens is ” the most complex animal, the only animal that believed it had transcended its Kingdom.
Gyasi said in her video message that she was “delighted” that her book was selected.
“It’s a book about family love, about mother-daughter relationships, brother-sister relationships, and it’s about science and the importance of science, which I think is something that is on all of us right now,” she said. “It’s about religion and faith, and whether or not it’s possible to cling to a childhood faith as you grow and change. And I hope it’s a book that will give you a lot to say.
Readers Advisor Librarian Cindy Haiken said the book was one of her favorite reads of 2020.
“Gyasi’s characters are deeply human, with real wounds and real memories,” Haiken said. “The painful details of Gifty’s past are central to our understanding of her present, and the novel is filled with the tension between our desire to understand and the realization that certain aspects of human behavior cannot be understood using science alone. .”
“Transcendent Kingdom” was shortlisted for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and shortlisted for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction. The book is also the adult title in Connecticut State Library’s 2022 All CT Reads program.
Copies of the book can be borrowed or purchased from the library and from other community partners, including the Coalition for a Better Wallingford, 136 Center St. The library also offers the book as an audiobook and e-book. Free tickets for the author’s visit are available at the library.
Adult Programming Librarian Leah Farrell said on Wednesday that the One Book, One Wallingford book selection committee consciously chose an author from the Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) community.
“A big part of our focus is DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) and uplifting marginalized people,” Farrell said, “and this was an effort in that direction — one of the many things we do to trying to make more intentional choices in what we do. She just happens to be amazing, and the book is amazing. We still can’t believe this is happening.”
This year marks the fourth round of “One Book, One Wallingford” programs. The third program, which started in early 2020, was halted due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The remaining events and the authors’ visit took place virtually in the spring of 2021.
Partners include Choate Rosemary Hall, Coalition for a Better Wallingford, Literacy Volunteers of Greater New Haven, Wallingford Poet Laureate Debora Kuan, Spanish Community of Wallingford, Wallingford Performing Arts Center, Wallingford Public Schools, Wallingford Senior Center, and Wallingford Youth and Social Services.
[email protected]: @LCTakores