Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Neil Gaiman is one of my very favorite authors. His imaginative worlds and beautiful way with language make his books some of my very favorites to read. In preparation for the series American Gods, I decided to revisit both the book that series is based on and it's companion, Anansi Boys. This
time, though, I did the audiobooks, and I am really glad I did. My review of the writing is below, but I want to start with a shout out to the narrator of the audiobook, Lenny Henry. He pulled off British, American, and Carribean accents, as well as voicing several gods. I was completely sucked in by his narration.

Anansi is a mythical character from African folklore, a trickster god who bedevils man and god alike. Anansi stories have been popular for ages; I remember teaching an Anansi picture book when I was still a classroom teacher. In Anansi Boys, Gaiman takes the god out of legend and places him in retirement in Florida. When he dies, his son, tragically nicknamed Fat Charlie, travels from his home in England to his father's funeral. While there, he discovers he had a brother that no one ever told him about. His father's elderly neighbor tells him to whisper to a spider if he wants to meet his brother, and feeling rather foolish he does just that. When his brother, named Spider, shows up, Fat Charlie's life takes a decidedly frightening and crazy turn.

Anansi Boys has lots of the dry wit that I love about Gaiman's adult fiction, and while much of the action is humorous or downright absurd, he also provides some truly chilling scenes. Poor, hapless Fat Charlie is the perfect straight man to his brother's shenanigans and the eccentric ladies who try to help him solve the problems his brother creates in his life. Compared to American Gods, which ends up being very dark and full of violent imagery, Anansi Boys is almost whimsical, though it is not without it's tense, terrifying moments. The Anansi of this book has some recognizable elements from the Anansi in American Gods-his trademark hat, his smooth talk, his playful nature-but is much better developed, even though he is really only present for a small portion of the book.

I remember wondering when I read Anansi Boys for the first time if Gaiman planned to make his Old Gods stories into a book series. There were so many gods mentioned in American Gods that could be explored-Mr. Wednesday, Easter, the Russian sisters and Czernobog, Bilquis, Ibis and Jackel. So far there is no sign that is a thing that will happen, but hope springs eternal! Humans have created so many gods over the millennia that an author would surely never run out of source material. So Mr. Gaiman, if you're reading this, this fan would totally be down with a few more adventures in the world of the Old Gods.


  1. I've actually never read anything by Neil Geiman but he was recently suggested to me as an author not to miss. I think I might start with this one as it sounds like a great read.

    1. It's probably not a bad place to start. It's a fairly easy read, and a lot of it is darkly funny. Enjoy!

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