Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Anansi BoysAnansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a delightful, charming and funny book. It reads like a children’s fairy tale while engaging the reader in layer upon layer of humanity. I would have given it 5 stars, but for American Gods which is a Great Book with a capital G. If the latter is 10/10, this book is 9/10. One can easily see how Anansi Boys derives from American Gods.

Many have summarized the novel. I see no need to do so again. Just some thoughts on layers.

Humans create God. Gods don’t create humans. I see this as a theme of both books. Anansi, the ancient African spider God had one son, not two. His son, Fat Charles was divided into two by the intervention of human ‘magic’, resulting in a naive Fat Charles and Spider. Spider is trickster God in his own right, and can do magic or miracles. Fat Charles grows up to be an average accountant. One fun. One boring. Through the plot machinations, Charles, as he reaches his potential, becomes a God, able to manipulate reality through magic.

Humanity is explored too through family archetypes. This is most obvious from Fat Charles embarrassment by his father, mentioned many times in the novel. Anansi even dies in an embarrassing manner. Have not every one of us been embarrassed by our parents. We have the brotherly fight, their desire for the same woman, Fat Charlie’s gaining understanding of his father, marriage, work children. We’ve all been there or will be.

There is an exploration of dualism, not really good vs evil, but more real. This is displayed by the ‘2’ opposing brothers and the 2 parts of their whole, by Anansi vs Tiger, by bird God vs the boys, by Daisy and Maeve vs Grahame Coats… It is not capitalized Good vs Evil, but human discord and competition.

Finally, there is the big one: Thought, stories, songs create reality from which spring the Gods and us.

Is see all of this or pieces thereof, but above all it is funny, very funny and entertaining, very entertaining.

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