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In Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys, Fat Charlie Nancy has a problem, several in fact. It all started when his father died and he met his long-lost brother. By whispering to a spider, Fat Charlie‘s brother, Spider, comes to visit and finds that he likes his brother’s life so much, he’s going to take over. See, their recently deceased father, Anansi, was a god, and his children aren’t entirely average humans. After making a deal with a Bird woman to get rid of his brother, Fat Charlie realizes he’s in way over his head and the brothers must work together to fix the myriad of problems they are faced with throughout the novel.

Fans of Gaiman will love this novel, as it is an exemplary work, typical of Gaiman’s style. He brings mythology to the masses by presenting gods and power in a modern setting and style. Gaiman is known for his personification of thoughts and ideas (particularly in his Sandman graphic novels, where he includes the characters of Death and Sleep, among others).

What I love about Gaiman’s writing is how he can take something extraordinary and fantastical, and make it feel real and natural. He does this by presenting an average person with real problems. Subplots in this novel (paralleling the fantastical plot of a god’s children interacting with other gods) are ones of greed, deceit, white-collar crhyme and murder.

When I finished Anansi Boys, I wanted to find out more about mythology and the different types of gods from various cultures. Is there a god like Anansi, the story teller, in other cultures? What types of animals are associated with powers like story-telling, deceit and jealousy. This novel presented several questions for me and got me interested in the interesting subject of mythology.

Neil Gaiman is perhaps most known for his Sandman graphic novel series, but he’s also written several adult novels (like American Gods and Neverwhere) as well as children’s books (The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, among others). His writing is down-to-earth and comical, yet at the same time other-worldly and fantastical. He combines the two themes admirably.

This light-hearted yet meaningful novel is sure to entertain. It answers these age-old questions: What would it be like if your father was a god? Would you inherit any special powers? Would you be aware of those powers? What would a god’s children be like? Do limes have special powers?

An Anansi story

Posted in Animal Deities.

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