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American Gods #2

Anansi Boys

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God is dead. Meet the kids.

Fat Charlie Nancy's normal life ended the moment his father dropped dead on a Florida karaoke stage. Charlie didn't know his dad was a god. And he never knew he had a brother.

Now brother Spider's on his doorstep -- about to make Fat Charlie's life more interesting... and a lot more dangerous.

387 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published September 20, 2005

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Neil Gaiman

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5 stars
72,432 (33%)
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42,269 (19%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 11,546 reviews
Profile Image for Seth T..
Author 4 books872 followers
April 14, 2008
I laughed out loud. While reading. In a Japanese rice bowl joint. Okay, so maybe it was more of a chortle, but it was definitely out loud. And more than just the once. Patrons quietly minding their own business while slogging through their Number Three Specials With Extra Tokyo Beef would be startled into wakefulness to see me - chopsticks in one hand, book in the other - as my grizzled maw broke forth with guffaws and irrepressible smiles.

Really, Anansi Boys may be the first thing I've read from Neil Gaiman that I liked. I never got into Sandman (though I'm told I should have persevered). I never finished American Gods (though I'm told I should have persevered). I never finished 1602 (despite guessing that I should have persevered).

Still, not only did I like it but I loved it. Enough that I gave my copy to someone else to read and purchased a second copy for another friend. And I'm certain they'll want to do similar things with the book.

Anansi Boys is at all times funny, adventurous, and charming. And several other over-used adjectives. In fact, Anansi Boys may be the prototype from which overused adjectives should have come - before they were overused. I'm not sure that Anansi Boys is great literature and I'm not sure that it isn't. What I am certain of beyond any shadow of doubtfulness is that Anansi Boys may be the most fun I have ever had reading a novel.

There may be others that I enjoyed more but my experience of this book was such that it pushed (if even momentarily) all other books from my mind. Someone on the back suggests that the book will make you love and be grateful for spiders. Critics and the things they say, huh? Well, I don't love spiders, but dang was this book good.

The end.

p.s. Anyone thinking of reading Blue like Jazz or Against Christianity or something by Karl Barth should definitely read this first. 'Cuz I mean what if you died after finishing the next book on your queue? It would be an all time tragedy to have wasted hours reading Donald Miller when there is something like Anansi Boys out there. Plus, it's just as spiritual.
Profile Image for Qiana.
82 reviews76 followers
July 24, 2016
I agree with many of the reviewers who praise this fun and inventive novel, but I am especially fascinated by how Gaiman represents race in Anansi Boys. He chooses not to explicitly identify that his globe-trotting main characters are black until at least p. 32 (if I'm mistaken, somebody please let me know) and only then as a point-of-fact that is secondary to their status as gods. It is true that anyone who has read American Gods or heard traditional African folktales will have met Anansi before, but even here the story emphasizes the cultural distinctiveness of the Caribbean island where this Anansi lives without employing heavy racial signifiers. (This isn't the same as being "race-neutral" - whatever that means! - and the white characters are identified as such.) At first I thought it was odd, then really interesting and a thoughtful way to put Anansi and his fellow gods on equal footing with other cultural myths and legends. Toni Morrison experiments with this in "Recitatif" and Paradise, but it is nice to see the technique employed in unexpected places. The story is also influenced by Zora Neale Hurston's work, which is cool. While I still like American Gods better, this is a great read. It's also hilarious - see one of the quotes I saved below.
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,865 followers
January 31, 2021
A cool spidey alternative, not just special tinkling senses while silking and scuttling around, but doing some nasty stuff with his abilities and I don´t mean the bondage your dirty mind might imagine at the moment. Wait,… damn self irony.

There are 2 kinds of second parts, the one in series that usually get better because the exposition, and thereby dangerous lengths, infodumps, and losing the reader´s interest, are already behind the writer and she/he can now fully focus on pure entertainment.

And then there are the ones that are not lifting off, I´ve hardly seen this in one of Gaiman´s usually ingenious books, but this one seemed somewhat constructed, put together afterward, didn´t have the usual logic and inner stability, but that´s criticism at a very high level, it´s still a good work.

Anti heroes, such as Loki, in this case the not so well known Anansi, are always fun to read, because their enjoyable evilness opens up dynamic, fun, and vast lands of putting their deadly, crippling, and humiliating jokes into a modern or future setting. Often, there was even some educational purpose in the originals, something mostly getting lost in modern adaptations, where it´s mostly about using them for thrill, action, and fast paced cuts and jumps from character to setting. I´ve read some mythologies and they are, duh, kind of boring too, because creative writing courses weren´t that hip and fancy these days hundreds and thousands of years ago.

Because there is so much mythology and clever, hidden easter eggs and philosophy hidden in this one, it would be interesting to take a deeper look when reading or rereading it, because Gaiman didn´t just include a ton of classical motives, origin myths, and moralizing examples of how ancient cultures used to brainwash and indoctrinate their people by hiding secret commandos in their folklore, but some underlying, deeper meaning too. Or I just want to see them, whatever.

What is really strange, kind of prophetic, is that the potentially endless concept of creating new gods out of technology, epigenetic, and cultural change, didn´t work out as well as possible both as series and as book. Just thinking about what might be possible, not just in general, but specifically with the mythology and current state of affairs around the world, is immense. All fantasy elements of traditional tales could be continued in
a science fantasy comedy setting, filling it with innuendos and connotations to past, present, and possible futures, making it an extremely inspiring read.

I have to repeat and emphasize, that this is criticism at a very high level, the curse of all outstanding prodigy writers, that the fangirls and -boys immediately notice weaknesses that would be accepted in works of all the good, but not great, authors, and that it´s still an amazing, funny, mindblowing work. Just not as good as his others.

I am totally looking forward to an author who makes this dynamic the driving force of her/his series, using
and creating a never seen, mind blowing, crossover, letting genre conventions implode, über hybrid. Ahem, Mister Sanderson, may you please take over?

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 65 books233k followers
April 22, 2010
One of the few Gaiman books that I only gush mildly about, as opposed to gushing enthusiastically.

It's a solid book, and it does all the things that makes Gaiman's books great. It's got humor, myth, gravitas, cleverness.... But it simply didn't impress me as much as Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, or Coriline.

I'm willing to admit that the only reason I don't rank this book as 5 stars is because I'm comparing it to his other books, which are profound and perfect. That's probably unfair of me, but I never claimed to be completely fair.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,883 reviews16.6k followers
October 5, 2019
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman blends the best attributes of Gaiman’s extraordinary talent: excellent writing, original storytelling, mythic elements, and confidence.

A central theme in the narrative is about confidence and that is also how Gaiman tells the tale, his writing exudes confidence, he writes with a virtuoso’s swagger. Not really taking off where American Gods left off, but neither does it depart from Gaiman’s myth and legends foundations, Anansi Boys sings the song of Fat Charlie, Mr. Nancy’s somewhat estranged son and how he gets his groove back.

Someone should make a list of all the stories about trickster gods and I think that would make a great collection - maybe even a story about all the trickster gods, like a convention! Loki, Coyote, Anansi, etc. Hey Neil!

Very entertaining.

Profile Image for J.G. Keely.
546 reviews10.2k followers
August 27, 2016
I've come to recognize that one of the main reasons I enjoyed this book so much was that I listened to the audiobook, performed by comedian Lenny Henry, whose background as a Brit of Caribbean descent made him the perfect choice to bring the characters to life. A lot of audiobooks aren't very good, but this one way great, and really brings out the fact that Anansi stories are meant to be heard.

It's recognizable Gaiman stuff, with the fish-out-of-water narrator in a modern fantasy world, with the author sxploring the history and the form of the mythic story, but there's a level of deprecating humor in this book that is lacking in other works by Gaiman.

One can catch snips of wit in any of his books. Any good book must include some humor: an author might as futilely try to excise pain or desire from life as humor. Gaiman has never placed any such artificial limits on his work; indeed, the only limits on his books are those he, himself cannot overcome.

Previously, his humor was only an occasional element, but there was apparently something in the writing of this particular book which finally allowed him to unleash his sense of the comic as a whole entity. The text swims and bobs with the ridiculous, the unfortunate, and the clever.

After reading 'Good Omens', written by Gaiman and Prachett, I was told that without Prachett, it would have retained none of the humor. I now begin to wonder whether if Pratchett added anything at all. Indeed, this work of Gaiman's overshadows that earlier work in both degrees and shades of the insightful and entertaining.

With the focus on Anansi and stories, the book provides an amusing analysis of storytelling itself, so that anyone who studies the nature and classification of tales will find certain asides and references particularly amusing. It is rare these days that an author will write a piece of fiction which explores on a subtextual level a concept or idea fundamental to the work itself. I have come to wish that more authors could gain the audacity that Gaiman found here.

There is a degree to which this story matches Gaiman's usual monomythic progression from naive outsider to coy insider, which at the outset was my greatest difficulty with the work. The inevitability and redundancy of this trope makes me wish for Gaiman's more eccentric and perverse moments. However, I found in the clever and skilled text a story worth experiencing, and one which matches or exceeds Gaiman's other attempts in the modern fantasy genre.

The story is not as epic or dire as Gaiman's tend to be, and without that there is a loss of urgency in the story. This is not really a deficiency, however, as the playful humor could not cohabitate comfortably with an ever-steepening plot curve.

The work fits into Gaiman's usual mode, exploring the myths and psychologies that most interest him. It may lose some of his fans in that it is less dark and brooding, less hopeless, but this could hardly be counted a loss. Any reader who wants more of the same can re-read his old works. the rest of us may appreciate seeing a master storyteller exploring his form in a new and engaging way.

My Fantasy Book Suggestions
Profile Image for Jayson.
1,926 reviews3,457 followers
August 24, 2023
(B+) 76% | Good
Notes: Gets too diffuse (it's focus-loose), a lot of story-slacking, a waggish work if over-quirked, it’s fun but magic's lacking.

*Check out progress updates for detailed commentary:
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
June 18, 2021
Fat Charlie (his dad gave him the nickname (it's a sore spot)) spent his entire life absolutely mortified by his dad.

Of course, everyone's parents are embarrassing. It goes with the territory. The nature of parents is to embarrass merely by existing, just as it is the nature of children of a certain age to cringe with embarrassment

Then his dad does the unthinkable - he had the nerve to die. Now Fat Charlie has to go back to America for the first time in years and midway through the funeral - he discovers something wholly unexpected and almost equally embarrassing - his dad was a God.

Everybody going to be dead one day, just give them time.

We follow Fat Charlie (Anansi's son) as he becomes immersed into the world of the Gods - from discovering primitive magic to his secret brother. His life is thrown into chaos - his fiancee leaves him, his brother swoops her up and Fat Charlie is set up to take the fall for a very terrible person. All the while, he has to deal with the fallout from his dad's embarrassing death.

While this book takes place in the same world as American Gods - there is hardly any overlap. This could be read this one as a standalone. I was disappointed that my favorite characters (Shadow and the new gods) don't make an appearance. The plot progressed at a glacial pace but once it started ramping up, I was hooked - there were so many side plots that were masterfully interwoven.

I did enjoy that Fat Charlie had more personality that Shadow (from the first novel) but I still preferred Shadow. Much of the charm and magical realism from the first book didn't have as much of an impact as it did before - perhaps because of the limited characters. My absolute fave character? Fat Charlie's fiance's mother - she was such a bitter, shriveled prune (I loved it!).

The Finer Books Reading Challenge - 2018 Reading Challenge: A book that switches perspectives

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Amanda.
282 reviews313 followers
June 11, 2013
A Digression and a Review:

When I was a child who was much too prone to being serious for her own good, there was a catalpa tree in our backyard. Now, if you don't know what a catalpa tree is, it's worth a Google. Catalpas are beautiful and exotic, with giant leaves we used as "plates" to have fairy-like meals of mulberry and honeysuckle (with mimosa blossoms as a bit of garnish), giant bean pods that hung down like sylvan fingers ready to ensnare an unsuspecting child, white orchid-like flowers that would shower down while we swung on the tire swing below. In its boughs, I could pretend to be Pocahontas, a female Mowgli, or Jana of the Jungle. I would climb up and look down to the ground so far below, filled with delicious terror at how impossibly high I was. This tree seemed massive--big enough to hold all of my dreams and wildest flights of fancy. It, to paraphrase Zora Neale Hurston, seemed to hold dawn and doom in its branches.

As an adult, however, this tree that looms so gargantuan in my imaginary landscape seems small and shrunken, like a wizened grandparent, its limbs not so big, and I realize that, while I felt like I was climbing to the top of a skyscraper, I was barely 10 feet off the ground.

I bring this up because this is the closest approximation I can make to the difference between reading as a child and reading as an adult. As a child, there was a magic in stories, and I'm not talking about pixie dust and wands (although there was certainly some of that). There was a magic in not knowing (or caring) where a story was going. A magic to realizing why, hey, that main character is kind of like me. A magic to finding that you could read the same story over and over and over again and it would never get old and would never be the same story twice, not really. The colors were brighter. The emotions were palpable. There was nothing but possibility. And, yes, there's certainly still magic in the stories I read as an adult, but it's never quite the same, is it? I'm a little more jaded in that, as soon as I can predict where the story is going, I lose a little interest. There's a little more cynicism, a little more impatience with an "I've been here before" narrative, and a little more sadness in knowing that I can never immerse myself in adult stories with the same abandon as that 10 year old reading under the catalpa tree.

Now, I bring this up to explain that this is why I love Neil Gaiman. Gaiman can, more so than any other author, create that childlike awe of story within the adult me without telling a children's story. It's a peculiar and wonderful literary alchemy, this ability to take the adult world, the "real" world, and transform it into a place where one can find the same charm, humor, unpredictability, and enchantment found in the best children's narratives. And Anansi Boys is such a book.

A companion book to American Gods, Anansi Boys, follows the story of Fat Charlie, son of Mr. Nancy, a rascal of a man with a wicked sense of humor, an eye for the ladies, and a knack for purposely embarrassing his introverted, sensitive son. When Mr. Nancy dies, the now grown-up, soon to be married, and tenuously employed Fat Charlie is relieved that his father can never humiliate him again; however he soon finds out that life is not going to settle into a mundane, predictable pattern for him. He learns that his father was Anansi, the trickster spider god of African folklore, and he learns that he has a brother, Spider, who inherited his father's mischievous spirit and magical abilities. It's not long before the reunion between the two brothers breaks out into a serious (and frequently hilarious) case of sibling rivalry, with Spider usurping Fat Charlie's apartment, girlfriend, and life, and Fat Charlie going to extreme lengths to rid himself of his demigod brother.

Anansi Boys lacks the darkness of American Gods and is a much more whimsical, comedic read. Initially, this did cause a bit of a disconnect for me until I gave in to the story without trying to connect it with or hold it up to my expectations of American Gods. While following the adventures of Fat Charlie, I found myself laughing aloud and relishing each twist and turn in the story (as well as looking forward to the humorous "in which" chapter titles). Gaiman's love of story is evident and, as we learn through his depiction of Anansi folktales, the stories we tell and the stories we live are important not just for entertainment, but for creating the world as it should be. And the world as it should be is something as close as possible to a catalpa tree as seen through the eyes of a child--a place where anything and everything is possible, because that's where real magic resides.

Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder
Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews806 followers
June 12, 2017
Previously Goodreads listed this book as “Anansi Boys (American Gods #2)”, this has since been fixed by Raven the ace GR librarian. Anyway, Anansi Boys is not American Gods #2, the character Anansi does, however, appears in American Gods (as Mr. Nancy) so the two books are related but there is no need to read one to follow the other.

Anansi Boys is about Anansi’s two sons, the absence of an apostrophe-S after Anansi’s name notwithstanding. The first one we are introduced to is Charles Nancy, usually called “Fat Charlie” in spite of not being fat. The other is called Spider who is a god and can do magic. When Spider enters Fat Charlie’s life he promptly turns it upside down because that is the sort of guy he is:

“He would not have recognized guilt if he had an illustrated guide to it with all the component parts clearly labeled. It was not that he was feckless, more that he had simply not been around the day they handed out feck.”

Basically, Spider moves into Charlie’s apartment, steals his fiancé, unintentionally gets him in trouble with the law and causing him to lose his job. He does all this by impersonating Charlie without even bothering to look like him; he is just amazingly persuasive. Charlie’s attempt to get rid of him backfires and exponentially exacerbates the situation. It leads to a bird goddess sending massive flocks of multi-species birds after them, and a tiger-god coming after their blood for the alleged sins of their father.

Anansi from the American Gods TV series

Anansi Boys is a tremendously fun wild ride. It is not as complex or nuanced as American Gods but, for my money, it is more fun. As always, Gaiman is overflowing with ideas and his prose tend to have a light, whimsical touch that often made me laugh (out loud even). He is a dab hand at characterization, the book’s main antagonist Graham Coats is absatively particularly vivid and hilarious but also very dangerous. Anansi himself is based on a popular West African folklore character, a fun-loving trickster god who loves to steal other gods’ stories and make them his own; hence Gaiman’s theme of the power of storytelling, which he connects to the theme of storytelling through music. I love the musical references in this book, after I read a certain chapter I suddenly had an irresistible urge to listen to Under The Boardwalk, which I have not heard for years, what a lovely, evocative song (even though I’ve never been under one). The prose style of this book is generally lighthearted and humorous but Gaiman switches into a fable or folklore style when the narrative is told from a god’s point of view.

Anansi Boys is not objectively better than American Gods, which is indeed great, but I personally enjoy it more and it is my favorite Gaiman book.

Here Neil Gaiman explains that Anansi Boys is not a sequel to American Gods. Thank you Raven for the link.

• Besides being inspired by African Folklore Gaiman also seems to have been inspired by Terry Pratchett’s witches books. There are several comical witches in this book.

• There was a radio play adaptation of Anansi Boys in 2005 which Gaiman hated as it was abridged into a one hour play! This led him to write his own movie screenplay. Hopefully there will be a movie one day.
Anansi Boys is not objectively better than American Gods, which is indeed great, but I personally enjoy it more and it is my favorite Gaiman book.

“Daisy looked up at him with the kind of expression that Jesus might have given someone who had just explained that he was probably allergic to bread and fishes, so could He possibly do him a quick chicken salad: there was pity in that expression, along with almost infinite compassion.”

“Some hats can only be worn if you’re willing to be jaunty, to set them at an angle and to walk beneath them with a spring in your stride as if you’re only a step away from dancing. They demand a lot of you.”

“He had arrived , at the age of ten , with an American accent , which he had been relentlessly teased about , and had worked very hard to lose , finally extirpating the last of the soft consonants and rich Rs while learning the correct use and placement of the word innit . He had finally succeeded in losing his American accent for good as he had turned sixteen , just as his schoolfriends discovered that they needed very badly to sound like they came from the ’ hood .”

“Of course , everyone’s parents are embarrassing . It goes with the territory . The nature of parents is to embarrass merely by existing , just as it is the nature of children of a certain age to cringe with embarrassment , shame , and mortification should their parents so much as speak to them on the street .”

Fat Charlie and Spider
Profile Image for Maggie Stiefvater.
Author 81 books168k followers
October 10, 2011
I kept intending to write a proper review/ recommendation of ANANSI BOYS, which I read while I was in Australia, but for some reason, every time I sat down to write it, all that came out were words in one syllables, which makes for a lousy book review. Sample copy of my early blog posts about ANANSI BOYS:

This book is good.
This book is fast.
This book is fun.
This book is what it says it is.
Which is fun.
This book is a good, fast, fun read.

I'm just not sure it's going to get any better than that. I liked this book better than its predecessor, AMERICAN GODS, and you don't need to have read that one in order for this one to make any sense. The only other thing I can say is that I immediately went out and bought another copy to give away to a friend, so that should stand for something, surely.
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,320 followers
September 11, 2018
Well, this felt a bit like a spider getting drunk while reading a history of literary genres, and then spinning a thread and getting all tangled up in the different genres himself while trying to make sense of the pattern he created.

The web is a fable posing as a detective story posing as an embarrassing coming of age and heartbreak story mixed with fantasy and crime, put in a treasure chest and shipped off to the pirates of the Caribbean, where it decides to change shape and take a chapter's break in the realm of spooky ghost stories, before wrapping up as a social satire on the nature of love and happiness.

To be fair, the author added the most accurate and funny description of a monstrous hangover I have ever read, and while letting the reader look like a question mark most of the time, he also makes several of the reader's days by creating laughing-out-loud moments of nonsensical, witty humour in the middle of a comedy which could have the subtitle "the tragedy of the human condition".

Bowing to Sartre's existentialism, he also creates a mini-hell of his preferred definition: "l'enfer, c'est les autres", and instead of eternally grilling humans in their frustrating interaction in the closed-off hell-cave, he lets a dark and mean and dumb-as-a-brick brutal god go bonkers whenever a tiny ex-human says something annoyingly irritating. Killing it off is a meaningless feat, of course, as it plays the honorable part of Prometheus' liver in this firework of storytelling:

"Stories are like spiders, with all they long legs, and stories are like spiderwebs, which man gets himself all tangled up in but which look pretty when you see them under a leaf in the morning dew, and in the elegant way that they connect to one another, each to each."

That is a wisdom I will cherish from now on, but even deeper layers of learning were reached in the important science of how to wear a demanding hat and how not to blame a lime for the pickle you're in!

Neil Gaiman is the god of storytellers - which might well be a curse in his universe, as gods are constantly in trouble for having too much imagination and too little impulse control. They're a perfect mirror of their creators, obviously.

Wonderful, spidery, funny, - beyond the realm of descriptive adjectives!
Profile Image for Fabian.
957 reviews1,624 followers
January 19, 2020
A delight (& the first of Gaiman's books that I've read to get the full ***** from me)! It's got that outrageous "Freaky Friday"/Prince & the Pauper narrative; Britishisms a-la Evelyn Waugh; and a peck of Douglas Adams's brand of whimsy (this is infinitely better than Hitchhiker's Guide, & much better than the author's own Stardust AND Neverwhere). It's adorably Beetlejuician! What's not to like, huh?
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews50 followers
October 8, 2021
Anansi Boys (American Gods), Neil Gaiman

When Fat Charlie's dad named something, it stuck. Like calling Fat Charlie "Fat Charlie."

Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can't shake that name, one of the many embarrassing "gifts" his father bestowed -- before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie's life.

Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things. Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie's doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew.

A brother as different from Charlie as night is from day, a brother who's going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun ... just like Dear Old Dad.

And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie.

Because, you see, Charlie's dad wasn't just any dad. He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god. Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, and baffle the devil. Some said he could cheat even Death himself.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش

عنوان: پسران آنانسی؛ نویسنده نیل گیمن؛ مترجم رحیم قاسمیان؛ ویراستار لیلا اوصالی؛ تهران، انتشارات پریان؛ 1400؛ در 452ص؛ شابک9786007058343؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده21م

پدرش او را «چارلی چاق» صدا میکرد؛ «نیل گیمن» در این کتاب تا ژرفای یادمانهای کودکانگی غوطه ور و در کابوسهای شبانه به خود میآید و داستان خیال انگیز بی‌خوابی شبانه ی یک پسربچه ی تنها را باز میگویند؛ «گیمن» که در بیشتر آثارش به پسربچه ها و تلاششان برای پیوند با زندگی میپرداختند، در رمان «پسران آنانسی» نیز که نخستین بار در سال 2005میلادی منتشر شده داستانی را باز میگوید که چکیده آن را خواهم نوشت

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 15/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,256 followers
April 2, 2012
Anansi Boys is like a rollercoaster without the loops, very few twists and one that keeps the speed to a minimum. You strap yourself in, ready for excitement that never materializes. My god, I've never felt more luke warm towards a book in my life.

The mildly interesting story is of a somewhat relatable modern day slacker coming to grips with his father's and brother's overwhelming personalities as well as a fantasy world he didn't know existed. I'm tired of stories with modern day slackers bringing their pessimistic cynicisms to a world filled with fantastical lore. It's a fourth wall breaker and it's been done to death. I won't say Gaiman has taken the myth, mystery and intrigue completely out of this Caribbean mythology. He has however married it with a modern sensibility that claps a ball and chain about its ankle. At least with other books of his he can be given the credit of imaginary inventiveness. Anansi Boys doesn't even have that going for it.

Profile Image for Shannon.
901 reviews235 followers
December 8, 2019
ANANSI BOYS (hereinafter AB) is the archetype tale of the hero's quest but in place of the typical warrior hero is a fool, and, oh, it happens to take place in our days and there is the wonder of something magical yet not totally seen.

Our fool of a hero is Fat Charlie. He used to be chubby as a kid but now he's in good enough shape yet everyone remembers him as Fat Charlie so the name sticks, much to his chagrin, and, it's all the fault of his father.

Wait, did I tell you his father is a trickster African God?
That makes it even harder on Fat Charlie because he's not dealing just with a mortal father but a father who is an African God and who can usually persuade people to do almost anything and make them usually laugh over it. At one point, back in the day, when Fat Charlie was a kid, his father tricked him into dressing like President Taft on President's Day and told him everyone else would be dressed that way, too.

Well, they were not and Fat Charlie was belittled to tears by the other kids and his father thought it was all amusing.

Now, don't start thinking Fat Charlie's father is overly cruel because there are other stories that favor him doing kind things for his son.

Did I mention this father, known as Anansi, by the way, has two sons? Fat Charlie is the mortal one and this other son, known as Spider, is the one with all the powers.

After Anansi appears to bite it while singing karaoke (something Fat Charlie could never do) there's a big funeral and a series of steps in the story lead to the two brothers linking up for the first time.

Spider finally meets Fat Charlie, who lives in London but who grew up in Florida, and Spider decides he wants to live with Fat Charlie for a while.

But . . .

It turns out that Spider likes Fat Charlie's lifestyle so much that he steals his fiance and takes over his job while Fat Charlie goes off to talk to some witches (four old ladies living in a suburb) to have Spider banished. In doing so, he goes to another dimension where life first began and makes a deal with Bird Woman who has a grudge against Fat Charlie's family.

What then takes place is a situation where a mortal and his demigod brother are attacked from several different fronts by this immortal, godlike Bird Woman.

Oh, and Fat Charlie gets it for another girl but has to rescue his old fiance and her mother from another superpower in the Bahamas where he learns what it means to be a hero, even if he is truly the archetype fool.

Overall, a superb urban fantasy with overlapping themes of coming of age, Pandora's Box, the twists and turns of life and
how we all have family members we really want to get away from. Heh.

And, on a far deeper level, one could also say this is about being human, even around the face immortal Gods.

61 reviews20 followers
June 24, 2011
Mr. Gaiman has the same problem as Terry Pratchet. He can present the material, but he can't make me care. It's not a good sign when you're halfway through a book and you realize that if you put down the book and walked away right then and there, and never found out how the book ended, you wouldn't care. I don't care whether things work out between him and Rosie. I don't care if his dad is still alive or not. I don't care if he and his brother ever make up. I wouldn't care if the author ended the book with 'then a bomb exploded and they all died the end'. I am unable to get interested in any of the characters or the plot. And the book was supposed to be funny, but most of the jokes just made it seem like he was trying way too hard. I've had this problem with all of Gaiman's books. I guess it just not my thing.
Profile Image for Nikoleta.
695 reviews274 followers
July 21, 2017
Ναι, ο Gaiman μας μεταφέρει και πάλι στον κόσμο του American Gods όμως εδώ σταματούν οι ομοιότητες στα δύο βιβλία.
Όσο κι αν μου άρεσε το American Gods, το Anansi Boys κέρδισε στα σημεία. Είναι απίστευτα ανάλαφρο και κεφάτο βιβλίο, το οποίο κυλάει νεράκ��.
Η υπόθεση μου άρεσε πολύ, είναι έξυπνη, σπαρταριστή με πλοκή γρήγορη και έξυπνες ανατροπές. Ο ήρωας είναι σκέτος goofy και αξιολάτρευτος. Επίσης ναι, έχει και φαντάσματα τα οποία λατρεύω στις ιστορίες. Όποιος διάβασε το Αmerican gods και δεν του άρεσε, ας μην βιαστεί να απορρίψει το Anansi boys, είναι από τα βιβλία που δεν αφήνεις εύκολα από τα χέρια σου.
Profile Image for Kostas Papadatos.
51 reviews21 followers
October 19, 2017
Ωραίο βιβλίο, απίστευτα αστείο και ανάλαφρο. Λίγες οι σελίδες του, που διαβάζονται εύκολα σε ένα απόγευμα.
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,715 followers
September 28, 2010
I love Neil Gaiman's Sandman so much that I am desperate to love the rest of his work, but I can't do much more than like it because it's mostly only okay.

He deals with all the stuff I love -- mythology, the occult, death, dreams, the urban fantastic -- but he's too tongue-in-cheek. When I read one of his novels, I feel like I'm reading the Nick Hornby of fantasy. Too clever, too hip and too cool for his own good.

It's not that I don't like his prose work. I do. And I even love some of it (like Wolves in the Walls, if that counts, and Stardust), but when I get to what should be the meat of his oeuvre, American Gods and its sequel, i can't help feeling let down.

It's not that I don't like his characters. Mr. Nancy, Spider and Fat Charlie are pretty groovy; the book reads fast and is entertaining; I even dig the ending, but somehow none of that is enough. I want more from Neil. I want to be dazzled, and he teases me with bedazzlement constantly, but I've only been dazzled by Dreams -- nothing else has come close.

And maybe that's my problem right there: having found Gaiman through Sandman, everything that's followed pales in comparison. I am always looking for greatness, and all I get is pretty good.

So if you read this review, Neil, just know that I love you, and I will always read you, and I am constantly looking for that drug-like hit I had the first time I bought a Sandman comic (and yes I am that old) and was blown away by your storytelling. You are a victim of your own best work.

Please, please, please blow me away again.
Profile Image for Madeline.
781 reviews47.2k followers
December 20, 2010
It's remarkable, really, how long I was permitted to exist without reading Neil Gaiman. In retrospect, I suppose it's a good thing that I didn't read any of his books until college - had I been exposed to his work in high school, the result would have been a near-obsession filled with pages of awful fanfiction and an emotional meltdown when I learned that Mr. Gaiman is happily married.

But this didn't happen, thankfully. My first Neil Gaiman book was American Gods, and when my roommate (a much more dedicated fan than me) recommended it, she added that although the book was good, Anansi Boys was better. I started reading this one with some trepidation, as I was convinced that nothing could ever be as good as American Gods, but to my delight, I was proven wrong.

Sometimes, you read a book and know you're going to love it by the end of the first chapter. Sometimes you know after the first paragraph. With Anansi Boys, I knew at the dedication. It goes like this:

"You know how it is. You pick up a book, flip to the dedication, and find that, once again, the author has dedicated the 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."

Someone fetch me a fainting couch and some smelling salts, I need to swoon for a moment.

Ok, I'm back. Anyway, what I really liked about this book was it just focused on a small group of people. American Gods, this book's predecessor-but-not-exactly-prequel, was a sprawling epic with tons of characters and rules and the fate of the entire world and then some depended on the ending coming off right. Anansi Boys takes that same world, one in which the gods are still alive and living among us, and zeroes in on just a couple of characters: the trickster god Anansi's two adult sons, one of whom has grown up knowing his father is a god, the other who is unaware of this. The stakes are still high, of course, and battles must be fought before the end, but the scope of the novel wasn't as expansive and exhausting as American Gods. You don't necessarily have to read one before the other, but it certainly couldn't hurt.

I forgot to mark the good passages in my copy, so here are three random excerpts from the pages I remember off the top of my head:

"Like all sentient beings, Fat Charlie had a weirdness quotient. For some days the needle had been over in the red, occasionally banging jerkily against the pin. Now the meter broke. From this moment on, he suspected, nothing would surprise him. He could no longer be outweirded. He was done.
He was wrong, of course."

"Fat Charlie tried to remember what people did in prison to pass the time, but all he could come up with was keeping secret diaries and hiding things in their bottoms. He had nothing to write on, and felt that a definite measure of how well one was getting on in life was not having to hide things in one's bottom.
Nothing happened. Nothing continued to happen. More Nothing. The Return of Nothing. Son of Nothing. Nothing Rides Again. Nothing and Abbott and Costello meet the Wolfman."

"Maybe Anansi's just some guy from a story, made up back in Africa in the dawn days of the world by some boy with blackfly on his leg, pushing his crutch in the dirt, making up some goofy story about a man made of tar. Does that change anything? People respond to the stories. They tell them themselves. The stories spread, and as people tell them, the stories change the tellers. Because now the folks who never had any thought in their head but how to run from lions and keep far enough away from rivers that the crocodiles don't get an easy meal, now they're starting to dream about a whole new place to live. The world may be the same, but the wallpaper's changed."
Profile Image for Trish.
2,021 reviews3,438 followers
August 21, 2022
Despite having read Gaiman's American Gods multiple times, this was the first time I've read this spin-off or whatever you want to call it.

Mr. Nancy is different here. He's fallen in love with a mortal woman and has a son with her, Charlie. Charlie is quite shy and awkward. He's also gonna get married soon, though the wedding preparations look less than enthusiastic to me.
We get to know that he basically grew up without a father, but when Charlie hears about Mr. Nancy's passing, he nevertheless goes to his funeral.
From there, it's a jorney of (self-)discovery once a neighbor tells him that Mr. Nancy is no other that Anansi, the African spider god. Carlie also finds out that he supposedly has a brother who has inherited their father's divine powers.
Once Charlie and his brother meet, the world will never be the same again. Yes, I know how lame that sounds but if I told you about how but that he instead or that in truth , I'd spoil all the fun. ;P

Personally, I LOVE stories about the power of storytelling. And I LOVE American Gods. It's therefore no surprise that I wanted to read more about the arachnid deity known for shaping reality and connecting humans through stories. What are lives, after all, but stories?!

Nevertheless, this is definitely not Gaiman's strongest. I mean, it's still top notch or I wouldn't rate it this highly, but after reading so many of the author's others, this felt too ... different (in a slightly less impactful kinda way).

However, Gaiman is still fantastic on his worst day and almost godlike himself on his best day so I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the cluster of neighbors (especially Mrs. Higgler who was just a hoot) while I cringed about Charlie's awkwardness and flat-out growled at Rosie. The gods, once we encounter some, were a wonderfully colourful array of old and familiar tales that were (re-)presented in just the right light that combined the old with a bit of a modern twist.
On a personal note, having seen over 25 sparrows descend on my garden today and having seen Hitchcock's The Birds, I get why Bird Woman poses such a threat. *lol*

A nice little side quest / adventure that couldn't quite capture me as much as Shadow's but which was still highly entertaining.
Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,810 reviews801 followers
December 12, 2019
I enjoyed this book WAY more my second time reading it. The first time I read it I went into it thinking it was a continuation of American Gods and it most definitely is not that so I was a little let down. But this time I knew what I was getting into and I was able to fully appreciate the spectacular story that Anansi Boys actually is! I thought the plot was incredibly interesting and I loved learning more about Anansi and his background. You get little glimpses in American Gods but this was so much more in depth! I also really loved Fat Charlie and Spider, their dynamic was so interesting and the trouble that Spider causes made cringe at times and laugh out loud at others. And after you find out the truth at the end, it kind of blows your mind! I definitely didn't see that coming and it literally made my jaw drop! I thought the ending was quite perfect, it didn't play out how I thought it would but after finishing it, I couldn't imagine a better ending.
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
1,018 reviews1,184 followers
November 5, 2018
"Stories are like spiders, with all their long legs, and stories are like spiderwebs, which man gets himself all tangled up in but which look so pretty when you see the under a leaf in the morning dew, and in the elegant way that they connect to one another, each to each."

My friend Kelly is one of those wonderful, eccentric people who is perfectly happy to be herself and doesn't care what anyone else thinks. I wouldn't call her weird, but I would definitely not call her normal. Her daughters rebelled against their mother's so-called weirdness by being some of the most charming, yet unrelentingly normal humans I've ever met. Normal hair, normal clothes, normal academic pursuits, normal jobs, normal boyfriends... Sometimes, Kelly isn't sure where they picked up that eerie normality...

I thought about them as I re-read "Anansi Boys"; Fat Charlie is exactly like Kelly's girls, cringing at his father's eccentricities and strangeness, and doing his very best to blend in as much as he can. He hasn't seen or spoken to his father in years, and that's just fine by him. He leads a perfectly ordinary life, with an ordinary job in bookkeeping and an ordinary fiancée - and he is fairly pleased with the placidity of it all. Until he learns that his father passed (in an appropriately embarrassing way) and attends the funeral only to learn that he has a mysterious brother he doesn't remember. And then that brother comes to pay him a visit...

This is an unusual Gaiman novel: it feels like a slightly different voice than the one regular readers might be used to. It is also much more deliberately funny than other Gaiman books: his weird and wonderful British humor always shines through in his work, but it usually feels more accidental. Here, he wants you to laugh, he's trying to set you up for a chuckle at every page. And that's part of my problem with this book: this attempt at being humorous feels strained. Neil doesn't need to try, he should really just let it happen on it's own...

The other element that makes this book not as stellar as other Gaiman books is the characters. I just didn't particularly enjoy any of them, and felt them all to be under-developed. Spider is a total dick, I simply don't get why Fat Charlie wants to marry a super-boring cold-fish like Rosie and Fat Charlie himself just takes so long to get his shit together... Even the bad guy lacks panache... I think I wanted more Anansi, more of his zaniness, more over-the-top; and the way the characters were drawn up just felt lukewarm.

Don't get me wrong: this is not a bad book. I don't think Neil Gaiman has it in him to write a bad book. But it definitely doesn't have the same caliber as some of his other works. 3 and a half stars.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11.2k followers
June 23, 2010
4.0 to 4.5 stars. Another superb story by one of my favorite authors. While not a sequel to his superb American Gods, it shares the title character with that book along with some references to his adventures in that story. While those references add to the richness of the tale, there is no necessity of reading American God first (except for the obvious one that it is one of the best books ever).

Anyway, this story center around Charles "Fat Charlie" Nancy, a timid, passive man from London whose life is turned upside down when his very flamboyant father dies. Charlie soon discovers that his father was actually an incarnation of "Anansi" the West African trickster god (whose primary form is that of a spider). Things go from bad to worse when Charlie meets his previously unknown older brother, Spider. Spider proceeds to turn Charlie's previously dull existence upside down through a series of events that I won't spoil here except to say that, in typical Neil Gaiman fashion, they meet a plethora of incredibly unique and intersting characters during the course of the narrative.

Neil Gaiman is an incredible story teller and this book is another great one. Highly Recommended!!

Winner: British Fantasy Award for Best Novel (2006)
Winner: Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (2006)
Winner: Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Best Novel (2006)
Winner: SFSite Reader's Poll for SF/Fantasy Novel (2006)
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,107 followers
August 22, 2022
As enjoyable as the first time.

That is to say, I fell head over heels in love with the idea of stories within stories taking over, of the god of stories, Anansi, passing on his gift of the gab -- a little joy, humor, and sexiness -- into the wide world.

For those of us who know America Gods, this is not a direct sequel even if it carries on a few characters. The real treat is in the story.

I was fooled the first time I read this. I was wondering just how Fat Charlie, a little ponce who gets walked all over, would come into his own. It was so grounded, so funny when he first discovered Spider, that I could very well have just ridden these interactions all the way to the end and would have been happy. A somewhat normal resolution.

Thankfully, the book spun us around and gave us some fully foreshadowed brilliant reveals that changed the entire nature of the book. I love it when this kind of thing gets pulled off. And it's Gaiman. So a little trust IS warranted.

I miss Gaiman's adult work. I've loved all of his adult work so much more than his YA, with a possible exception of Coraline. I loved Coraline very much. But it's the full adult wonkiness that I prefer, and this one kicked ass.

No, it's not American Gods. But it is its own beast, or arachnid, and that is way more than enough for me.
Profile Image for Chantal.
579 reviews390 followers
August 28, 2022
A little disappointing after American Gods.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,599 reviews8,732 followers
April 24, 2017
“The important thing about songs is that they're just like stories. They don't mean a damn unless there's people listenin' to them.”
― Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys


I spent the evening avoiding my nightly duties to my family while slowly pruning in the tub while reading this. Time to transfer back into my normal wrinkles and be a grown up.

The book was good. Not great. But it was playful. I can see how many of my friends would love it. Stop. Many of my friends DO love it. It is a song and dance about family, brothers, myths, stories. It just fell a bit flat with me. Perhaps, like someone who has grown too old to see fairies or see magic, I'm just through a certain veil where Gaiman's prose works, but I KNOW -- I'm not feeling him the same way some are. I hear the words. I just don't want to sing and dance.

Firmly in my forties, I feel almost obligated to keep reading Gaiman books even though they are past, for me, their expiration date. The magic is fading. But something still pulls me back in. They are the Lays Potato Chips of science fiction. Harsh? Perhaps, but perhaps it is just that I'm not directly Gaiman's fanbase anymore. He isn't writing exactly for me and I know it. I feel it. But still, every few seasons -- I unavoidably -- reach into the greasy Gaiman bag for another book. I miss the song. I miss the dance. So, periodically, I open his books and try and recreate those first few pages, the first few times. I try to put my youth and magic back into a bottle, but I don't have the focus or the patience.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,645 reviews1,512 followers
April 17, 2018
I really can’t decide if I like Neil Gaiman. So far I’ve read a few of his books and they are missing something that I just can’t seem to put my finger on. I think what I’ve come to discover is that this is one of the rare instances that I prefer an authors movies more than the books they write.

At one point around 80% in I almost just put the book down to wander off into something else never to return to it. But it seemed silly to read almost all of a book and not finish.


But I finished and while I did enjoy the beginning of the book (except for in one chapter I think it used the term Fat Charlie 607 times), I liked the end of the book even if it took awhile to pull it all together. What was muddled is some of the stuff in the middle. This is like a modern day folk tale but again I’m missing some connection that I’m supposed to have with the characters.

However, I did like learning how Anasi stories are like the ones that Disney told in Song of the South about a very clever rabbit that gets the better of those around him using trickery.

So far for Neil Gaimen I’ve decided to wait for the movie.
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