TOP PICKS

September Book Recommendations

Curated by Mariel Ariwi
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Click on each book cover to read the review

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi’s beautifully written novel follows Gifty, a PhD candidate in neuroscience researching reward-seeking behaviour, as she deals with her fractured family, the past loss of her brother, and her mother’s bouts of depression. 

 

As a young girl, born in Alabama as the daughter of Ghanaian immigrants, Gifty is raised in the church to be devoutly religious. When her father leaves their family to return to Ghana, they try to carry on without him. Gifty’s brother becomes addicted to opioids and she asks God repeatedly to deliver her brother from addiction. When her brother dies, she hears members of their white church “talking about him as though only the portion of his life that had taken place before his addiction was worthy of examination and compassion”. Her “tree [of] belief” is reduced to a stump, her faith shattered. Gifty’s mother is consumed by grief and plunged into a deep depression, leaving Gifty to forge a way forward for herself. Science, and her work, becomes a way to “make order, make sense, make meaning of the jumble of it all”.  

 

A subtle and quiet examination of the inner life, Transcendent Kingdom is a superb follow-up to Gyasi’s previous novel, Homegoing.

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The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

A searing, angry retelling of the history of Native people in North America. Thomas King writes humorously but with anger resulting from generations of injustice simmering close beneath the surface. Looking back at the history of Native issues, he acknowledges that “when we look at Native-non-Native relations, there is no great difference between the past and the present.” Tackling history, politics, and pop culture through “a series of conversations and arguments”, this book is a must-read to understand Native issues of today.

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My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend, the first of a series called The Neapolitan Novels, is of the most well-known explorations of the complexity of female friendships. The author, Elena Ferrante, has gained international renown for her incisive and powerful writing. My Brilliant Friend tells the story of Lila and Elena, two girls who grew up together in a poor Naples neighbourhood, and how their friendship transforms as their lives continue to unexpectedly intersect in the years that follow. More than just a story about friendship, Ferrante also describes a neighbourhood and country on the brink of political change, the ubiquitous of male violence, the power of education, the value of social class. Lila and Elena are captivating characters, their lives forever intertwined and connected. 

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TheOneEighty-2220.JPG

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend, the first of a series called The Neapolitan Novels, is of the most well-known explorations of the complexity of female friendships. The author, Elena Ferrante, has gained international renown for her incisive and powerful writing. My Brilliant Friend tells the story of Lila and Elena, two girls who grew up together in a poor Naples neighbourhood, and how their friendship transforms as their lives continue to unexpectedly intersect in the years that follow. More than just a story about friendship, Ferrante also describes a neighbourhood and country on the brink of political change, the ubiquitous of male violence, the power of education, the value of social class. Lila and Elena are captivating characters, their lives forever intertwined and connected. 

TheOneEighty-2217.JPG

The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

A searing, angry retelling of the history of Native people in North America. Thomas King writes humorously but with anger resulting from generations of injustice simmering close beneath the surface. Looking back at the history of Native issues, he acknowledges that “when we look at Native-non-Native relations, there is no great difference between the past and the present.” Tackling history, politics, and pop culture through “a series of conversations and arguments”, this book is a must-read to understand Native issues of today.

TheOneEighty-2208.JPG

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi’s beautifully written novel follows Gifty, a PhD candidate in neuroscience researching reward-seeking behaviour, as she deals with her fractured family, the past loss of her brother, and her mother’s bouts of depression. 

 

As a young girl, born in Alabama as the daughter of Ghanaian immigrants, Gifty is raised in the church to be devoutly religious. When her father leaves their family to return to Ghana, they try to carry on without him. Gifty’s brother becomes addicted to opioids and she asks God repeatedly to deliver her brother from addiction. When her brother dies, she hears members of their white church “talking about him as though only the portion of his life that had taken place before his addiction was worthy of examination and compassion”. Her “tree [of] belief” is reduced to a stump, her faith shattered. Gifty’s mother is consumed by grief and plunged into a deep depression, leaving Gifty to forge a way forward for herself. Science, and her work, becomes a way to “make order, make sense, make meaning of the jumble of it all”.  

 

A subtle and quiet examination of the inner life, Transcendent Kingdom is a superb follow-up to Gyasi’s previous novel, Homegoing.