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Friday, January 29, 2016

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Anansi Boysis a sequel of sorts to Gaiman's American Gods; it is set in the same world and follows the adventures of the sons of Mr. Nancy, a secondary character from the previous novel, and both are essentially Hero's Journeys, but there the similarities end.  While American Gods was grand in tone, dealing with matters of colonization, mortality, faith, and sacrifice, Anansi Boys is much lighter in nature, even farcical at times -- as befitting a novel centering on the offspring of a trickster god.

Fat Charlie Nancy has a perfectly ordinary life with an ordinary job and an ordinary fiance, but the death of his father and his reacquaintance with his long-lost brother, Spider, turns his world upside down.  To regain control of his life, Charlie must come to terms with both his heritage and his powers.  This is an old story, and so in terms of its plot it is completely predictable.  The originality of the story lies in the voices of the characters (it becomes gradually apparent that Charlie and Spider, so different at first, have more in common than either would have expected) and in the interweaving of British and Caribbean cultures (in a neat touch, the race of the Black characters is taken for granted, and it is the white people who are identified as such).  And, of course, it would not be a Gaiman novel if it were not stuffed with mythological and folkloric references.  While this book wasn't as satisfying or thought-provoking as American Gods, it was fun and enjoyable.

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