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Anansi Boys Paperback – January 22, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. If readers found the Sandman series creator's last novel, American Gods, hard to classify, they will be equally nonplussed—and equally entertained—by this brilliant mingling of the mundane and the fantastic. "Fat Charlie" Nancy leads a life of comfortable workaholism in London, with a stressful agenting job he doesn't much like, and a pleasant fiancée, Rosie. When Charlie learns of the death of his estranged father in Florida, he attends the funeral and learns two facts that turn his well-ordered existence upside-down: that his father was a human form of Anansi, the African trickster god, and that he has a brother, Spider, who has inherited some of their father's godlike abilities. Spider comes to visit Charlie and gets him fired from his job, steals his fiancée, and is instrumental in having him arrested for embezzlement and suspected of murder. When Charlie resorts to magic to get rid of Spider, who's selfish and unthinking rather than evil, things begin to go very badly for just about everyone. Other characters—including Charlie's malevolent boss, Grahame Coats ("an albino ferret in an expensive suit"), witches, police and some of the folk from American Gods—are expertly woven into Gaiman's rich myth, which plays off the African folk tales in which Anansi stars. But it's Gaiman's focus on Charlie and Charlie's attempts to return to normalcy that make the story so winning—along with gleeful, hurtling prose.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Charles Fat Charlie Nancy leads a normal, boring existence in London. However, when he calls the U.S. to invite his estranged father to his wedding, he learns that the man just died. After jetting off to Florida for the funeral, Charlie not only discovers a brother he didn't know he had, but also learns that his father was the West African trickster god, Anansi. Charlie's brother, who possesses his own magical powers, later visits him at home and spins Charlie's life out of control, getting him fired, sleeping with his fiancée, and even getting him arrested for a white-collar crime. Charlie fights back with assistance from other gods, and that's when the real trouble begins. They lead the brothers into adventures that are at times scary or downright hysterical. At first Charlie is overwhelmed by this new world, but he is Anansi's son and shows just as much flair for trickery as his brother. With its quirky, inventive fantasy, this is a real treat for Gaiman's fans. Here, he writes with a fuller sense of character. Focusing on a smaller cast gives him the room to breathe life into these figures. Anansi is also a story about fathers, sons, and brothers and how difficult it can be to get along even when they are so similar. Darkly funny and heartwarming to the end, this book is an addictive read not easily forgotten.–Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061342394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061342394
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (568 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I make things up and write them down. Which takes us from comics (like SANDMAN) to novels (like ANANSI BOYS and AMERICAN GODS) to short stories (some are collected in SMOKE AND MIRRORS) and to occasionally movies (like Dave McKean's MIRRORMASK or the NEVERWHERE TV series, or my own short film A SHORT FILM ABOUT JOHN BOLTON).

In my spare time I read and sleep and eat and try to keep the blog at more or less up to date.

Customer Reviews

Neil Gaiman does a fantastic job pacing this story.
Brian Welsch
The characters are very well developed and fascinating, and the ending was just amazing.
It's also very funny, and I laughed out loud while reading.
Lynxie Wyvern

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Jack E. Holt, III on August 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
I have a comment on the CD version because, frankly, it was much more magical and interesting than the written work by itself. Anansi stories were made to tell around a fire at night, or out on the trail to pass the time, or, ever so quietly, while casting in a line to fish.

They are stories for people who do things, not just read things.

You can't read "Evil-doers beware!" and not think it's all a bit silly. But when you hear it around the fire, and thrill to the sound in your own blood, it doesn't sound silly at all. THAT's the power of stories told instead of read.

More importantly, Lenny Henry's voice captures every character as a unique creation. At first, the island accents are a little hard to follow, but then you get into the spirit of the thing. I know Lenny Henry as a comedian. I think the best comedians are observers and Henry has clearly observed a lot.

I enjoyed Mrs. Higler and Graham Coates the best, I suppose. Mrs. Higler is the voice of every well-meaning-but-meddling old woman who ever lived. Graham Coates is a fat weasel of a man who wants to be a big man. We've all met their type before. Lenny Henry takes us into their hearts with just a little bit of pacing and a fake accent or two.

Truthfully, though, I liked the stories BEHIND the stories, the original African tales worked into the novel, most of all. I played them for the toughest audience in the world-- my five-year old son. My son listened to the Anansi stories with a smile on his face that could outshine the sun. At the end of the tar-baby story he laughed and asked for more.

(Unfortunately, some of the book is a little too intense for young kids.
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200 of 215 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig VINE VOICE on September 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
good and ill together. That line from Shakespeare's All's Well that Ends Well captures the essence of Neil Gaiman's latest creation, Anansi Boys.

Charlie Nancy is one of life's more passive characters. He is perpetually embarrassed by those around him. He grew up in Florida embarrassed by his father who had an eye for the ladies, never seemed to have a job, and who bestowed upon Charlie the nickname "Fat Charlie". It is a name that stuck to Charlie like glue and has followed him everywhere he goes, even to England where he now lives and works. More than anything else, Fat Charlie is embarrassed by himself. His life is an endless stream of self-conscious needless apologies for his life. As one would expect from a character like Charlie he is timid in front of his boss and can't seem to convince his fiancé that there is nothing wrong with consummating their relationship prior to their marriage. The word perpetually frustrated comes to mind here.

As the story opens, Fat Charlie is back in Florida for the funeral of his father. Charlie no doubt hopes his dad's death, which occurred while singing a song in a Karaoke bar much to Charlie's embarrassment, will put an end to his own state of perpetual embarrassment. That is the closure Charlie seeks. But the old ladies who made up his Dad's circle of friends tell Fat Charlie that their father was something of a god, in fact a spider god. They also tell Fat Charlie he has a brother. Fat Charlie, of course, will have none of this nonsense and returns to England.

Of course, life is never so simple for any character drawn by Neil Gaiman. It turns out Fat Charlie does have a brother, Spider, who is everything Charlie is not.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Brian Welsch on April 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Anansi Boys started off a little slowly, I thought. Fat Charlie was such a drab anti-hero, but I found myself wondering how this guy was going to become interesting, because I genuinely liked the character despite his awkwardness. Neil Gaiman does a fantastic job pacing this story. We get sucked into the eccentricities of Charlie's brother, Spider, right along with Charlie. I found myself getting frustrated with Spider, much as I imagine Charlie was.

By the second half of the story, you could see the brothers' relationship changing. They were feeding off each other in a way, taking on characteristics of each other. Brilliantly done.

An interesting addition to the book was the 2 or 3 fables about Anansi that were spaced out in the first half of the tale. It made for a great lead-in to the interaction at the beginning/end of the world. I especially liked the scene with Tiger and the weasel. More so than in American Gods and Neverwhere, I felt Neil's writing was up to the task of his creativity. Definitely recommended to anyone with an imagination.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
You think your dad is embarrassing? Well, at least he isn't an African trickster god -- now that would be nothing but trouble.

But it's what you'd expect of Neil Gaiman, who is best known for his witty, slightly wonky brand of dark fantasy -- and his ability to spin up the most absurd stories in an entertaining fashion. And "Anansi Boys" features Gaiman getting in touch with his lighter, playful more humorous side, in a sort-of-sequel to his smash hit "American Gods."

Fat Charlie's dad has always been weird -- brass bands for the terminally ill, nicknames that stick, and much more. But even away from his dad, Charlie isn't happy. Then he gets the news that his dad died during a karaoke song; when he goes to the funeral, an old neighbor tells him that Daddy was really Anansi the spider god. Even worse, Charlie finds out he has a brother.

Spider is everything Charlie isn't -- charming, debonair, witty, and magical. Soon he has not only taken over Fat Charlie's house, but his fiancee as well, distracting Fat Charlie from his boss's attempts to frame him. Determined to get rid of Spider, Fat Charlie enlists the Bird Woman's help -- but soon finds that his pact will only get them in deeper trouble with the ancient gods.

Trickster gods -- like Anansi, Loki, Kokopelli, or even a bit of Hermes -- are always the most entertaining part of old myths and legends. They're unpredictable, unmistakable, get all the best lines, and perpetually wild'n'crazy -- and they are also the worst kinds of dads you could imagine. They probably wouldn't make wonderful brothers, either.
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