Anansi Boys (2005) by Neil Gaiman

An interesting sort of quasi-sequel to “American Gods”, “Anansi Boys” works as something of a spin-off about its titular character and his two sons. Much more comic than “American Gods”, it’s a fun, silly read that benefits from the impressive worldbuilding set up in its predecessor without really repeating anything else about it. It’s enjoyable iterative in that way.

The focus on African-Caribbean mythology was fascinating, and I liked how Gaiman applied his sort of “self-evident” style where he doesn’t bother with justifications or rationalisations and just gets on with the actual storytelling to both that, and the issue of race in the novel. I was pleased and amused to see Gaiman only explicitly identify the race of the white characters, clearly riffing off and applying a well-deserved deal of mockery to how so many books treat white as the default.

AnansiBoys

As in “American Gods”, Gaiman does a good job embodying the aspects of various deities into the personality of their characters, but I’m unsure just what sort of tone he was going for with Spider’s trickster-like nature. There’s a rape-by-deception at one point in the book and I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be played as a terrible moment, not a huge deal within the narrative, or an example of how “trickster” gods don’t just embody jovial and good-natured tricks. Some of the resolution for the novel didn’t work perfectly for me because I couldn’t really reconcile that scene with the rest of the book. But the relationship of Spider and his brother felt very well-characterised, as did all the family interplay really. I give it three birds and a cow’s foot.

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