Transcendent Kingdom


Yaa Gyasi

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Transcendent Kingdom Characters


Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate studying the neuroscience of addiction and depression. Her mother and father (the Chin Chin Man) immigrated to America from Ghana after the birth of Gifty’s older brother, Nanaread analysis of Gifty


Gifty’s mother was born in Ghana and raised there in a Pentecostal Church, which taught her the importance of religious faith. She married later in her life, by Ghanian standards, because God told her to… read analysis of Mother


Nana is Gifty’s older brother; he dies of a heroin overdose when he’s a teenager. He was born in Ghana as and was his mother’s miracle child; after years of infertility she fasted… read analysis of Nana

Father/The Chin Chin Man

Gifty’s father, the Chin Chin Man, received his nickname because he would buy achomo, or “chin chin,” from Gifty’s grandmother. He was raised Catholic but after his marriage to Gifty’s mother, he… read analysis of Father/The Chin Chin Man


Anne is one of Gifty’s closest friends from her undergrad degree program. They meet in an Integrated Science course at Harvard, where they are assigned to the same lab group. Although Gifty had taken… read analysis of Anne
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Raymond is a man with whom Gifty shared a romantic relationship early in grad school. The son of an African Methodist Episcopal preacher, Raymond studies Modern Thought and Literature and likes to throw elaborate dinner… read analysis of Raymond


Katherine is one of Gifty’s colleagues in the neuroscience program. She has taken time away from her psychiatric practice to get her Ph.D. because she is passionate about helping people for whom conventional and… read analysis of Katherine


Han is Gifty’s lab partner at Stanford, where his research involves imaging the neural circuits involved in reward expectation. He is shy and reticent with Gifty at first, and his ears turn red when… read analysis of Han

Pastor John

Pastor John is the head pastor of the Pentecostal First Assemblies of God Church in Huntsville, Alabama. Pastor John and his wife briefly take Gifty in while her mother is in the psychiatric hospital. He… read analysis of Pastor John

P. T.

P.T. is the youth pastor at First Assemblies of God Church when Nana and Gifty are children there. His real name is “Pastor Tom,” but he goes by P.T. in an attempt to seem approachable… read analysis of P. T.

Ryan Green

Ryan Green is a schoolmate of Nana’s and attends the same church as Gifty and her family. He has wormed his way into the position of P.T.’s protégé, despite being the biggest drug… read analysis of Ryan Green

Aunt Joyce

Aunt Joyce is Gifty’s mother’s sister; she lives in Ghana. Gifty stays with Aunt Joyce when her mother is recuperating from her first depression after Nana’s death. Gifty is surprised to find out… read analysis of Aunt Joyce