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

by Neil Gaiman

Series: American Gods (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
30,53883269 (4.07)12 / 1464
Shadow is a man with a past. But now he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life with his wife and stay out of trouble. Until he learns that she's been killed in a terrible accident. Flying home for the funeral, as a violent storm rocks the plane, a strange man in the seat next to him introduces himself. The man calls himself Mr. Wednesday, and he knows more about Shadow than is possible. He warns Shadow that a far bigger storm is coming. And from that moment on, nothing will ever he the same.… (more)
Member:Lkraustx
Title:American Gods: A Novel
Authors:Neil Gaiman
Info:Harper Perennial (2003), Edition: Later printing, Paperback, 624 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:None

Work details

American Gods by Neil Gaiman (2001)

Recently added byLadyLudovica, private library, anteon, angeljacoby, JaynesHat, mj4781, coffeymuse, MorbidLibrarian
  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. 252
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (WilliamPascoe)
    WilliamPascoe: Phenominally brilliant fantasy .
  3. 232
    Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (infiniteletters)
  4. 100
    Fables, Vol. 01: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham (sbuehrle)
  5. 111
    Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko (citygirl)
    citygirl: When the supernatural collides with modern life. One in Moscow, one in the US.
  6. 177
    Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For the necessity of belief.
  7. 102
    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
  8. 81
    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. 94
    The Stand by Stephen King (clif_hiker)
  10. 72
    Un Lun Dun by China Miéville (bertyboy)
    bertyboy: Alternative London for alternative fantasy. Have a go!
  11. 61
    King Rat by China Miéville (Runkst)
  12. 117
    The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams (WoodsieGirl)
  13. 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.
  14. 40
    The Wood Wife by Terri Windling (Larkken)
  15. 30
    Someplace to be Flying by Charles de Lint (MyriadBooks)
  16. 52
    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.
  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. 30
    Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  19. 41
    Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Chricke)
  20. 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.

(see all 46 recommendations)

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English (809)  Spanish (4)  German (4)  Dutch (3)  Italian (2)  French (2)  Finnish (2)  Portuguese (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Swedish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (831)
Showing 1-5 of 809 (next | show all)
It's sad to say, but this book just bored me. I usually like Neil Gaiman's stories, so don't read this as an attack on his talent or anything, but sometimes individual works just don't connect. In this case, American Gods felt aimless, detached, and more than a little pointless. Not only did the big concepts fail to land, but the little stuff as well. It's one thing when you have a book like Neverwhere where a few of the characters are insanely quirky because it's balanced out by the "straight man". Unfortunately, Shadow is a terrible straight man. He doesn't question, he doesn't speak for the reader, he just follows along moving from story segment to story segment (note I don't call them plot points as most everything in here is useless to the overall plot.) Nope, it just didn't work for me. ( )
  jamestomasino | Sep 11, 2021 |
Audiobook review:

I think I might have expected more from this book than I should have going into it. So many people had read it that I loved, trusted, believed in and got super hyped/deadlined by the coming show.

I really loved the short asides about the deities more than the main storylines. I liked seeing how they were beloved, or not, traveled to America, the gods America had birthed, and how they'd affected people, getting lost or loved until the death of the person who never forgot. ( )
  wanderlustlover | Aug 21, 2021 |
Fast read and very compelling/entertaining. However... there are two images from it that repulse and creep me out. Both involve violence done to children. I think Gaiman has that theme in his grab bag and perhaps in his mind it makes him edgy. But it's over the edge for me. This book would be more appealing without those ghastly images. ( )
  Je9 | Aug 10, 2021 |
Spectacular book! I read it because I've loved other Neil Gaiman books, but procrastinated reading it as well because, well, could it really be that good? And it is. The recommendations from strangers and from friends were well-earned and trustworthy.

Where to start? There's Shadow, newly released from prison early when he learns of his wife's death, in a car, with his best friend. Grief on multiple fronts. Then there's Wednesday, and for any of us with any knowledge of Norse Mythology (thank you, Neil Gaiman!), we know immediately who we're dealing with. And the Anansi Brothers, the first novel by Gaiman that I "read" as an audio book (highly recommend with the accents). And Mr. Ibis. And a mention of Gwydion. And the stories of how these dieties got here: from a shipload of Norse explorers, to an Irishwoman who knows her body is her coinage. To the West African slave trade and the people caught within those terrible chains.

Yes, the storyline does flip from place to place, but there's a reason for it and it's very, very well done. The time on the road, the card tricks, the time spent at Lakeside, all make a tangible contribution to a modern mythology of ancient and new Dieties. ( )
  threadnsong | Aug 8, 2021 |
I really liked this story, but had trouble feeling any kind of connection with the characters, the protagonist especially. Admittedly, I often find this with Gaiman's characters; it's almost as if they are distant by design, but I haven't quite determined the reasoning behind their lack of passion. I would otherwise rank this among my favourites, and I will probably read this again (though it isn't my habit to re-read material) to pick up the many breadcrumbs I will have no doubt missed in my first reading. ( )
  dowswell | Jul 25, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 809 (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 (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gaiman, Neilprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boutsikaris, DennisNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, SarahNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kivimäki, MikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKean, DaveIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McLarty, RonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oreskes, DanielNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
                           (University of Chicago Press, 1971)
CHAPTER ONE
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
CHAPTER TWO
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
Dedication
For absent friends—Kathy Acker and Roger Zelazny,
                   and all points between
First words
Shadow had done three years in prison.
Quotations
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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)

Shadow is a man with a past. But now he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life with his wife and stay out of trouble. Until he learns that she's been killed in a terrible accident. Flying home for the funeral, as a violent storm rocks the plane, a strange man in the seat next to him introduces himself. The man calls himself Mr. Wednesday, and he knows more about Shadow than is possible. He warns Shadow that a far bigger storm is coming. And from that moment on, nothing will ever he the same.

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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

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

(one-horse.library)
Shadow, with help from
wife, finds fickle gods and beats
them at their own game.

(legallypuzzled)

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