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Anansi Boys (2005)

by Neil Gaiman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: American Gods (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
18,161427189 (3.94)413
His past marked by his father's embarrassing taunts and untimely death, Fat Charlie meets the brother he never knew and is introduced to new and exciting ways to spend his time.
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» See also 413 mentions

English (414)  German (3)  Spanish (3)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (424)
Showing 1-5 of 414 (next | show all)
This book has been sitting on my bookshelves, untouched, for so long -- despite the fact that my sister got it signed for me by Neil Gaiman, himself. It was high time to pick this up, especially as I'd "recently" reread American Gods, so it was the first book for my readathon pile.

At first I was a bit nonplussed because this book seemed much less connected to American Gods than I had expected it to be. Then because it seemed like most of the characters were supposed to be black, but then it just didn't necessarily read that way, and you almost had to read between the lines to confirm that they were? I've seen references in other reviews that suggest that this was an intentional choice to make the characters seem universal. Which is, a choice, I guess? it felt weird.

Anyway, this is a Gaiman story through and through, and I suspect most fans of Gaiman would get into this work -- especially its themes on how stories make our reality.

Still, even as I liked it, I kept wishing for a more African take on Anansi, so it is super appropriate that Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is the book I am currently reading to the kids for bedtime story. Can't wait to get into the Anansi stuff there. ( )
  greeniezona | May 1, 2021 |
I liked it as well the third time as I did the first and second. ( )
  KittyCunningham | Apr 26, 2021 |
(4.5 out of 5)

Okay, so I really liked this book. It's a massively different beast than American Gods, but at the same time, it very much feels like it's a part of that universe. Anansi Boys is on a much smaller scale than American Gods was. While American Gods dealt with gods fighting against each other, Anansi Boys is an extremely personal story about the children of a god (Mr. Nancy, Anansi) connecting with each other and coming into their own.

That's not to say that there's not a lot of cool stuff that happens in this story. Especially as the novel goes on, the fantastical elements increase. Like American Gods, it's very grounded in reality, but when something fantastic happens, it's pretty unmistakeable. I loved the concept of Anansi (and, later, his children) being able to sing things into existence. I know that part of the lore of Anansi as a god is that he's a storyteller, and I feel like that aspect was utilized really well in the book.

In terms of pacing, it follows the pattern most of Gaiman's books follow: they start off slow, setting everything up, and as they reach the climax of the story, everything quickens and coalesces into this unstoppable freight train of compelling reading. I literally read half the book in one sitting. (The second half of the book, for anyone curious.) This definitely isn't a bad thing. I appreciate that Gaiman takes the time to properly set up his characters, plots, and universe that his works take place in. It allows him to ultimately craft a much more satisfying experience in the end than he would if the book just jumped straight into the action. That being said, sometimes it can take a bit of time to get through the part of the book that lays down the foundations and get to where all the fun stuff happens. But it's a worthwhile effort.

I also really liked how the relationship between Fat Charlie and Spider was depicted. It's such an interesting dynamic that Gaiman gives them, and it makes the book more interesting for it. At first, it feels like things are gonna get into that cliche that stories dealing with brothers often get into (one brother steals the other's girl, is generally better, etc) and while that does kind of happen at first, it ends up leading to a more satisfying conclusion than most stories that use this cliche do. The ending of the book justifies the initial use of that cliche, as Gaiman uses it as a way to have the two characters explore themselves and who they are. It's used with mastery.

I feel like it took me far too long to figure out the central mystery of the novel, but when I did, I ate it up. While the meat of Anansi Boys is the relationship between Fat Charlie and Spider and their feelings toward their father, Mr. Nancy, the addition of the thriller aspects of the plotline keep you invested in the character building. It's like a character discovers something new about themselves that leads into an update in the central mystery/plot which leads into another character moment and so on and so forth. It's great reading.

All in all, I liked Anansi Boys a lot more than I thought I would. It's clever, funny, moving, personal, fantastical, and just all around enjoyable. I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoyed the first American Gods book, anyone with an interested in African religions and mythology, anyone who enjoys Neil Gaiman's books, or anyone who likes a good mystery with fantastical elements. Anansi Boys is an all around good time. ( )
  thoroughlyme | Apr 23, 2021 |
Anansi Boys is a fun read, but for all its entertainment value it’s still not one of my top Neil Gaiman novels - though I do heartily enjoy it. Gaiman delves into African mythology, taking the mythos of Anansi into the modern world as he tells the story of Anansi’s sons Charlie and Spider. Of course, in typical Anansi fashion, Charlie has no idea that he has a brother (Spider is his brother, but it’s a bit complicated) and when the two are reunited after the death of their father things inevitably start to get chaotic. Gaiman uses all the tropes of the Anasi trickster stories from stolen fiances to impersonation, with many bargains made and revenges plotted, but still keeps the story human with the downtrodden and relatable everyman character of Charlie (aka Fat Charlie). Charlie may be a bit of an idiot who needs to take control of his life, but we’ve all been him - waiting to figure out what we’re good at, not quite knowing if people like us, being a bit scared of failure at every turn - and the story becomes more appealing as we see Charlie start to fight for himself. Of course, the story becomes ridiculous as Charlie (or Spider…) gets himself deeper and deeper into trouble, but nothing super terrible happens (even though there are a few edge-of-the-seat moments), so we’re left with a fun romp through some modernized mythology and a pretty great story. ( )
  JaimieRiella | Feb 25, 2021 |
Very entertaining. Needs an extra half star. Easy to read but with good, solid content and well written and structured. Can't say much about it without spoilers. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jan 23, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 414 (next | show all)
Gaiman kutoo tapansa mukaan sujuvan ja houkuttelevan kertomuksen, joka ammentaa tarinoiden ja myyttien maailmasta. Sujuvan lukukokemuksen viimeistelee onnistunut suomennos.

Gaimaniin mieltyneille Hämähäkkijumala on puolipakollinen kirjahyllyn täyte ja kevytfantasiaa hakeville ihan yhtä hyvä tutustumiskirja kuin mikä tahansa varhaisempi romaani. Vaikka kirjan juoni ei juuri yllätäkään, Gaiman esittelee tarinankertojan lahjaansa: kykyä tehdä mahdottomasta todenmakuista.
added by msaari | editKeskisuomalainen, Riku Ylönen (Jan 30, 2009)
 
And Charlie, who has become a successful singer and fathered a son, has come to terms with the powers and responsibilities of ''a boy who was half a god," having learned what Gaiman knows better, and communicates more forcefully, than any other contemporary writer: Stories and poems, songs and myths, represent us, sustain and complete us, and survive us, while also ensuring that all that's best in us survives with them.
added by stephmo | editBoston Globe, Bruce Allen (Nov 20, 2005)
 
The focus on Anansi and tricksters, I think, goes a long way towards explaining the tone of this novel. It really feels more like some of the established "funny" sci-fi/fantasy authors (like Gaiman's Good Omens co-author Terry Pratchett) than "classic" Neil.
added by stephmo | editPopMatters, Stephen Rauch (Nov 7, 2005)
 
The problem in "Anansi Boys" is the type of fantasy Gaiman has chosen. The tales of Anansi outwitting his foes leave you feeling you've eaten something heavy and sugary. There's an Uncle Remus folksiness to the stories that sends the airy blitheness of the farce plummeting down to earth.

There is also, I regret to say, the warm hand of instruction lying uneasily on this tale. Charlie works through his ineffectualness and his family issues to find happiness, contentment and - ugh - acceptance. It leaves you with the uncomfortable feeling that for Gaiman, farce by itself would simply have been too frivolous, that he feels the need to impart a lesson.
 
Anansi Boys contains a couple of traditional-style Anansi fables, and the book itself takes a similar ambling but wry, pointed tone; like any good Anansi story, it's about cleverness, appetite, and comeuppance, and it's funny in a smart, inclusive way. And like any good Gaiman book, it's about the places where the normal world and a fantastic one intersect, and all the insightful things they have to say about each other.
 

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gaiman, Neilprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Henry, LennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hopkinson, NaloIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mcginnis, RobertCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trueblood, HoustonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vallejo, FrancisIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
You know how it is, you pick up a book, flip to the dedication, and find that, once again, the author has dedicated a book to someone else and not to you.

Not this time.

Because we haven't yet met/have only a glancing acquaintance/are just crazy about each other/haven't seen each other in much too long/are in some way related/will never meet, but will, I trust, despite that, always think fondly of each other ....

This one's for you.

With you know what, and you probably know why.
NOTE: The author would like to take this opportunity to tip his hat respectfully to the ghosts of Zora Neale Hurston, Thorne Smith, P.G. Wodehouse, and Frederick "Tex" Avery.
First words
It begins, as most things begin, with a song.
Quotations
Fat Charlie wondered what Rosie's mother would usually hear in a church. Probably just cries of "Back! Foul beast of Hell!" followed by gasps of "Is it alive?" and a nervous inquiry as to whether someone had remembered to bring the stakes and hammers. (Chapter 5)
"Your job is safe and sound. Safe as houses. As long as you remain the model of circumspection and discretion you have been so far."
"How safe are houses," asked Fat Charlie.
"Extremely safe."
"It's just that I read somewhere that most accidents occur in the home." (Chapter 5)
"The ties of blood," said Spider, "Are stronger than water."
"Water's not strong," objected Fat Charlie.
"Stronger than vodka, then. Or volcanoes". (Chapter 6)
The beast made the noise of a cat being shampooed, a lonely wail of horror and outrage, of shame and defeat. (Chapter 13)
"I figured even if there was a nuclear war, it would still leave radioactive cockroaches and your mum." (Chapter 14, Charlie speaking to Rosie)
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

His past marked by his father's embarrassing taunts and untimely death, Fat Charlie meets the brother he never knew and is introduced to new and exciting ways to spend his time.

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Book description
Set in the same world as American Gods, but not a sequel to it.



In Anansi Boys we discover that 'Mr. Nancy' (Anansi) has two sons, and the two sons in turn discover each other. The novel follows their adventures as they explore their common heritage.
Haiku summary
Moral of the book

can't be: In order to find

yourself, wear a hat.

(legallypuzzled)

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