Neil Gaiman,
Anansi Boys
(Morrow/HarperCollins, 2005)

Long anticipation ran expectations high and that adorable little pixie-elf of an author, Neil Gaiman, did not fail to deliver with Anansi Boys. All of the fun, drama, mythology, characterization and utter allusiveness are here in massive doses as Gaiman, full of witty and whimsical vinegar, is in prime (and primal) form as he tells his tale of the two sons of Anansi, the African spider trickster god.

The young boys, Spider and Fat Charlie (who curiously is not in the least overweight), are awesomely inept and never quite comfortable in their skins, despite the deific genealogy they share. Their adventures in coming to terms with their parentage, their godhood and each other are archetypal and resonate with readers in heart-filling ways.

But underlying a great story with a great plot and hugely great characters, this work is about stories and their inexplicable, inexorable, ineffable and ineluctable entanglement in the human condition. The novel itself is peppered liberally with the traditional Ananzi stories. Amazingly, the book is literature at its most sophisticated and yet the simplest, earliest, most quintessential of human stories. It is a most satisfying reading experience.

by Stephen Richmond
17 December 2005

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