by Yaa Gyasi · read October 27, 2020
A stunning exploration of the main character Gifty's relationships - to God, to her family, to truth, to herself. I loved so many things about this novel.
'What's the point?' became a refrain for me as I went through the motions. One of my mice in particular brought those words out every time I observed him. He was hopelessly addicted to Ensure, pressing the lever so often that he'd developed a psychosomatic limp in anticipation of the random shocks. Still, he soldiered on, hobbling to that lever to press and press and press again. Soon he would be one of the mice I used in optogenetics, but not before I watched him repeat his doomed actions with that beautifully pure, deluded hope of an addict, the hope that says, 'This time will be different. This time I'll make it out okay.'
'What's the point of all of this?' is a question that separates humans from other animals. Our curiosity around this issue has sparked everything from science to literature to philosophy to religion. When the answer to this question is 'Because God deemed it so,' we might feel comforted. But what if the answer to this question is 'I don't know,' or worse still, 'Nothing'?