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American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman

American Gods: A Novel (original 2001; edition 2003)

by Neil Gaiman

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26,59571539 (4.09)12 / 1275
Title:American Gods: A Novel
Authors:Neil Gaiman
Info:Harper Perennial (2003), Edition: Later printing, Paperback, 624 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

American Gods by Neil Gaiman (2001)

  1. 260
    Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman (Anonymous user, moonstormer)
    Anonymous user: It's a great collection all around but the kicker is this collection includes a novella about Shadow a couple years after the events of American Gods
    moonstormer: Fragile Things contains a short story with the same character as is in American Gods. Both are highly recommended.
  2. 232
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (WilliamPascoe)
    WilliamPascoe: Phenominally brilliant fantasy .
  3. 222
    Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (infiniteletters)
  4. 121
    Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko (citygirl)
    citygirl: When the supernatural collides with modern life. One in Moscow, one in the US.
  5. 177
    Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For the necessity of belief.
  6. 112
    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (klarusu)
    klarusu: The same sense of unreality layered over a real-world setting, the same undercurrent of humour but this time it's the Devil that lands in Moscow
  7. 81
    Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham (sbuehrle)
  8. 71
    Last Call by Tim Powers (grizzly.anderson, MyriadBooks)
    grizzly.anderson: Both are about old world gods making their place in the new world.
    MyriadBooks: For aspiring to win in a bargain with gods.
  9. 127
    The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams (WoodsieGirl)
  10. 94
    The Stand {1978} by Stephen King (clif_hiker)
  11. 61
    King Rat by China Miéville (Runkst)
  12. 62
    Eight Days of Luke by Diana Wynne Jones (guyalice)
    guyalice: Neil Gaiman was surprised to discover that the concept of Eight Days of Luke was very similar to what he had initially planned for the plot of American Gods. He dropped the day-theme to avoid too many similarities and gave props to Wynne Jones.
  13. 40
    Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  14. 40
    The Wood Wife by Terri Windling (Larkken)
  15. 73
    Un Lun Dun by China Miéville (bertyboy)
    bertyboy: Alternative London for alternative fantasy. Have a go!
  16. 30
    Someplace to be Flying by Charles de Lint (MyriadBooks)
  17. 30
    The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (sturlington)
    sturlington: The Bone Clocks reminded me strongly of Neil Gaiman and David Mitchell has said that Gaiman was an influence.
  18. 52
    The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America by Bill Bryson (rockhopper_penguin)
    rockhopper_penguin: I read these two books one after another. It wasn't a deliberate decision, but the two did seem to work well together. The books visit a few of the same places, and it's interesting to note how differently they are portrayed in each.
  19. 41
    Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Chricke)
  20. 42
    Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore (andomck)
    andomck: Religion, realism, fantasy, humor, low brow, etc. Makes sense to me.

(see all 44 recommendations)

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Showing 1-5 of 691 (next | show all)
In the preface to the 10th anniversary "author's preferred text" edition of "American Gods," Neil Gaiman says that his book seems to divide people who either really love it or really hate it. I would actually fall somewhere in the middle. "American Gods" will appeal strongly to some people, and may not appeal even to those who have enjoyed certain other of Gaiman's books. It is perhaps better viewed as a work of magical realism in the vein of Haruki Murakami than as what most people think of as fantasy, which it is often labelled. I found the concept incredibly intriguing: what happens to all the gods and mythical creatures that are a part of traditional life in the "old country" when immigrants come to America? I had the pleasure of hearing Neil Gaiman speak a few days ago, and he described having written about four pages of "The Graveyard Book" before deciding that the idea for the book was a better idea than he was a writer. He put the pages away and came back to the concept about ten years later. Perhaps "American Gods" is another idea that was just too big for Gaiman's talent at the time, or perhaps I was just a tad disappointed because his take on the book's concept is simply not what I thought it would be. It takes a long time, about 2/3 of the way through the 500+ page book, for the many frayed edges of the story to start to be woven back together. He incorporates elements of so many different religions and mythologies that it seems hard to imagine any author not struggling with such a gargantuan task. Especially near the end, the character perspective shifts frequently in ways that make it hard to keep up with whose inner monologue you are hearing. The twist at the end makes me feel like I would have to read this book a second time to go back and see if there were clues along the way that I didn't notice. At the same time, while the meandering style and massive character list make this a challenging book to get through, I enjoyed the reading process along the way. The book is being adapted for television, and it feels almost as if it were written to be suitable for an "X-Files" type of series, where each episode does not necessarily connect to every other, but there are overarching connections that you don't perceive instantly. If you need for all details to fit tightly together into a cohesive picture with a clean wrap-up at the end, then this is not your book. If you like being led to think and don't mind ending your thought process with more questions than answers, than this is quite possibly a book you will enjoy. ( )
  quaintlittlehead | Jul 9, 2017 |
Wow! Very interesting and, IMO, very different for Neil Gaiman. It felt a little bit more like Stephen King (Dark Tower series) or Dean Koontz (Odd Thomas series), and I really enjoyed it! ( )
  TerriS | Jul 7, 2017 |
Gaiman's opus American Gods is more of a banquet than a meal. It took two reads in order to accurately devour this winding story: a tale of power, of hunger, of belief. Beautifully spun, Gaiman creates a world so vivid and alive that other fantasy novels seem to pale in comparison, and just feel downright lazy. ( )
  JaredOrlando | Jul 3, 2017 |
American Gods

I finally finished this beloved book – and it is beloved, and has been anticipated by its throng of fans to be made into SOMETHING, which, of course, it is now a series on a paid cable station (God of Media indeed). I would never claim to be an expert of fan of Mister Gaiman, with only two of his books experienced by me, Neverwhere and Good Omen, both of which I loved. I even became a little obsessed with Neverwhere, reading the adapted graphic novel and watching the BBC adaptation (and falling a little bit in love with Door and feeling absolutely helpless on that particular scene on the bridge).

I feel like where Neverwhere was about secrets, American God is about the blatantly obvious going unseen. I enjoyed the writing, the story telling, and especially some of the characters. I loved Anansi, and all the inhabitants at the funeral palor. Had I known nothing prior to the book (this was the anniversary edition and had an introduction) I may have been a little put off by the meandering, episodic nature of how the chapters were laid out. But, because of my prior experience with postmodernism and other likely literary styles, I was okay with it.

Plus, Neil has a simplistic style of storytelling that does not get into the minutiae unless absolutely necessary. I feel like his manner can be done audibly and visually. He is never convoluted – and this hold true especially for American Gods. There is little to do with the minor details, and I think this is why he does so well with such a large audience (once they decide to give him a go).

Back to the actual book and my feelings about it: I felt sorry for Shadow at first – it just seemed like he was entirely down on his luck and had many things happened to him that he did not deserve. Nevertheless, that’s life: you get mucked with regardless of what you have done, regardless of whom you have helped, regardless of how you have served your time to better yourself. But as he started to take the events in stride, I could see how he mirrors perfectly the story of the immigrant making their way to the United States (which, of course, is what the book is actually about). The immigrant, no matter the manner in which they come into these United States, is constantly challenged by everyone around. At some point there is either acceptance or complete rejection (typically is it the former). Shadow accepts what he must do and what he should do, for himself, for America, for Belief. In the end, that is why it works out the way it does – Shadow begins to understand his role.

I loved the stories in the immigrants that are interspersed throughout the book, my favorite being the girl from sentenced to indentured servitude rather than being lynched. I loved that some of my favorite gods and goddesses showed up. I liked the end. And the manner in which the flowers were presented to Sam. It is a beautiful, magical tale, and one if I were to categorize, is closer to magical realism than fantasy just because, “just because.” I did find Mr World’s role to be a little weak (the show is making him out to be more of a villain than I felt he is. And now that I know how it ends, I am curious as to how the show will deal with it, and how much of a role (that I hope will be eventual) that Lakeside will play. ( )
1 vote bardsfingertips | Jul 2, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 691 (next | show all)
This is a fantastic novel, as obsessed with the minutiae of life on the road as it is with a catalogue of doomed and half-forgotten deities. In the course of the protagonist Shadow's adventures as the bodyguard and fixer of the one-eyed Mr Wednesday, he visits a famous museum of junk and the motel at the centre of the US, as well as eating more sorts of good and bad diner food than one wants especially to think about.
added by mikeg2 | editThe Independent, Roz Kaveney (Jul 18, 2001)
Part of the joy of American Gods is that its inventions all find a place in a well-organised structure. The book runs as precisely as clockwork, but reads as smoothly as silk or warm chocolate.
added by stephmo | editThe Independent, Roz Kaveney (Jul 18, 2001)
Gaiman's stories are always overstuffed experiences, and ''American Gods'' has more than enough to earn its redemption, including a hero who deserves further adventures.
"American Gods" is a juicily original melding of archaic myth with the slangy, gritty, melancholy voice of one of America's great cultural inventions -- the hard-boiled detective; call it Wagnerian noir. The melting pot has produced stranger cocktails, but few that are as tasty.
added by stephmo | editSalon.com, Laura Miller (Jun 22, 2001)
Sadly, American Gods promises more than it delivers. The premise is brilliant; the execution is vague, pedestrian and deeply disappointing. It's not bad, but it's not nearly as good as it could be. There are wonderful moments, but they are few and far between. This should be a massive, complex story, a clash of the old world and the new, a real opportunity to examine what drives America and what it lacks. Instead, it is an enjoyable stroll across a big country, populated by an entertaining sequence of "spot the god" contests.

» Add other authors (37 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neil Gaimanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Boutsikaris, DennisNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Estrada, SigridAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, SarahNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kivimäki, MikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mcginnis, RobertCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKean, DaveIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McLarty, RonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oreskes, DanielNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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One question that has always intrigued me is what happens to demonic beings when immigrants move from their homelands. Irish-Americans remember the fairies, Norwegian-Americans the nisser, Greek-Americans the vryókolas, but only in relation to events remembered in the Old Country. When I once asked why such demons were not seen in America, my informants giggled confusedly and said, "They're scared to pass the ocean, it's too far," pointing out that Christ and the apostles never came to America.
—Richard Dorson, "A Theory For American Folklore", American Folklore and the Historian
The boundaries of our country sir? Why sir, on the north we are bounded by the Aurora Borealis, on the east we are bounded by the rising sun, on the south we are bounded by the procession of the Equinoxes, and on the west by the Day of Judgement
—The American Joe Miller's Jest Book
They took her to the cemet'ry
In a big ol' cadillac
They took her to the cemet'ry
But they did not bring her back.
—old song
For absent friends—Kathy Acker and Roger Zelazny, and all points between
First words
Shadow had done three years in prison.
Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.
"A town isn't a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but without a bookstore it knows it's not fooling a soul."
When people came to America they brought us with them. They brought me, and Loki, and Thor, Anansi and the Lion-God, Leprechauns and Kobalds and Banshees, Kubera and Frau Holle and Ashtaroth, and they brought you. We rode here in their minds, and we took root. We travelled with the settlers to the new lands across the ocean.
The land is vast. Soon enough, our people abandoned us, remembered us only as creatures of the old land, as things that had not come with them to the new. Our true believers passed on, or stopped believing, and we were left, lost and scared and dispossessed, only what little smidgens of worship or belief we could find. And to get by as best we could.
'So that's what we've done, gotten by, out on the edges of things, where no-one was watching us too closely.'
Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end.
All we have to believe with is our senses, the tools we use to perceive the world: our sight, our touch, our memory. If they lie to us, then nothing can be trusted. And even if we do not believe, then still we cannot travel in any other way than the road our senses show us; and we must walk that road to the end.
There's never been a true war that wasn't fought between two sets of people who were certain they were in the right. The really dangerous people believe they are doing whatever they are doing solely and only because it is without question the right thing to do. And that is what makes them dangerous.
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Disambiguation notice
There are at least two different editions of this book.   The original was published in 2001, and the tenth anniversary edition (Author's preferred text)  was published in 2011.   Please do not combine.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
The book follows the adventures of ex-convict Shadow, who is released from prison a few days earlier than planned on account of the death of his wife, Laura, in a car accident. Shadow finds work as the escort and bodyguard of the confidence man Mr. Wednesday, and travels across America visiting Wednesday's colleagues and acquaintances. Gradually, it is revealed that Wednesday is an incarnation of Odin the All-Father (the name Wednesday is derived from "Odin's (Woden's) day"), who in his current guise is recruiting American manifestations of the Old Gods of ancient mythology, whose powers have waned as their believers have decreased in number, to participate in an epic battle against the New American Gods, manifestations of modern life and technology (for example, the Internet, media, and modern means of transport). Laura comes back in the form of a sentient animated corpse due to a special coin Shadow had placed in her coffin, and is instrumental in eliminating several of the New Gods' agents.

AR 5.3, 28 Pts
Haiku summary
New gods, and old ones
All across America
- A storm is coming

Gods, starving, lose faith;
Easy marks for Odin's scheme.
Shadow holds his breath.

Shadow, with help from
wife, finds fickle gods and beats
them at their own game.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060558121, Paperback)

American Gods is Neil Gaiman's best and most ambitious novel yet, a scary, strange, and hallucinogenic road-trip story wrapped around a deep examination of the American spirit. Gaiman tackles everything from the onslaught of the information age to the meaning of death, but he doesn't sacrifice the razor-sharp plotting and narrative style he's been delivering since his Sandman days.

Shadow gets out of prison early when his wife is killed in a car crash. At a loss, he takes up with a mysterious character called Wednesday, who is much more than he appears. In fact, Wednesday is an old god, once known as Odin the All-father, who is roaming America rounding up his forgotten fellows in preparation for an epic battle against the upstart deities of the Internet, credit cards, television, and all that is wired. Shadow agrees to help Wednesday, and they whirl through a psycho-spiritual storm that becomes all too real in its manifestations. For instance, Shadow's dead wife Laura keeps showing up, and not just as a ghost--the difficulty of their continuing relationship is by turns grim and darkly funny, just like the rest of the book.

Armed only with some coin tricks and a sense of purpose, Shadow travels through, around, and underneath the visible surface of things, digging up all the powerful myths Americans brought with them in their journeys to this land as well as the ones that were already here. Shadow's road story is the heart of the novel, and it's here that Gaiman offers up the details that make this such a cinematic book--the distinctly American foods and diversions, the bizarre roadside attractions, the decrepit gods reduced to shell games and prostitution. "This is a bad land for Gods," says Shadow.

More than a tourist in America, but not a native, Neil Gaiman offers an outside-in and inside-out perspective on the soul and spirituality of the country--our obsessions with money and power, our jumbled religious heritage and its societal outcomes, and the millennial decisions we face about what's real and what's not. --Therese Littleton

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:03 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

Just released from prison, Shadow encounters Mr. Wednesday, an enigmatic stranger who seems to know a lot about him, and when Mr. Wednesday offers him a job as his bodyguard, Shadow accepts and is plunged into a dark and perilous world.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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