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Anansi Boys
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Anansi Boys

4.4 284
by Neil Gaiman

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In this #1 New York Times bestseller, Neil Gaiman returns to the territory of his masterpiece, American Gods (soon to be a Starz Original Series) to once again probe the dark recesses of the soul.

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


In this #1 New York Times bestseller, Neil Gaiman returns to the territory of his masterpiece, American Gods (soon to be a Starz Original Series) to once again probe the dark recesses of the soul.

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 is on his doorstep—about to make Fat Charlie’s life more interesting . . . and a lot more dangerous.

“Thrilling, spooky, and wondrous.”

Denver Post 

“Awesomely inventive.… When you take the free-fall plunge into a Neil Gaiman book, anything can happen and anything invariably does.”

Entertainment Weekly

“Delightful, funny and affecting.... A tall tale to end all tall tales.”

Washington Post Book World

Editorial Reviews

“Somehow manages to be both really scary and really funny at the same time.”
USA Today
“Funny and subversive . . . Gaiman’s mastery of language carries the reader through to a satisfying conclusion.”
Times Leader
“ANANSI BOYS makes an incredible read.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“[Gaiman] gives his flair for comedy free rein without losing his appreciation for the darker aspects of world mythology.”
Washington Post
“Deliciously compulsive . . . Grade: A.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“A welterweight boxer of a book — light on its feet, but capable of delivering a punch.”
Oklahoma City Oklahoman
“A clever, quick-witted book.”
Booklist (starred review)
“[Gaiman is] the folksy, witty, foolishly wise narrator to perfection.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Witty and engaging.”
Toronto Star
“Another great work from Neil Gaiman.”
Sunday Times (London)
“Gaiman hardwires his comedy of misrule with a crackpot energy that, when successfully channelled, lights up the imagination.”
Washington Post Book World
“Delightful, funny and affecting . . . the literary equivalent of a hole in one.”
London Times
“A thoughtful, atmospheric novel.”
Christian Science Monitor
“Genre-busting . . . very creative and very funny. Grade: A-”
Daily Telegraph (London)
“A very accomplished comic novel.”
“A hybrid of folk tale and farce that freely partakes of the comic wealth in each.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Readers who enjoyed American Gods . . . will fall madly in love with ANANSI BOYS.”
Sacramento Bee
“Ebullient . . . The Gaiman faithful will devour it gratefully.”
Rocky Mountain News
“Gaiman at his best.”
Time Out London
“The most accomplished of Gaiman’s novels . . . Urbane and sophisticated.”
Vancouver Sun
“A droll comedy of manners with elements of mystery, thriller and romance thrown in . . . Charming.”
Pittsburgh Tribune
“A madcap, screwball world that is partly absurd, occassionally humane and always entertaining.”
The Barnes & Noble Review
Anansi Boys, a sequel of sorts to Neil Gaiman's Hugo- and Nebula Award–winning American Gods, revolves around a prudish guy named Fat Charlie -- the unwitting son of the spider-trickster god Anansi -- who, after finding out about the death of his estranged father, meets the brother he never knew he had: and watches as his orderly life devolves into supernaturally induced chaos.

Fat Charlie's life in London is anything but remarkable. Though he works in a dead-end job for a despicable boss who resembles "an albino ferret in an expensive suit" and dates a woman whose mother hates him, Fat Charlie's bland existence takes a dramatic turn when he is summoned to Florida for his father's funeral. The trouble starts when Fat Charlie meets his brother, Spider -- who evidently received all his father's charm, wit, and wild sense of adventure. When Spider shows up in London and seduces his brother's fiancée, Fat Charlie reluctantly begins a journey of self-discovery that leads him to the very beginnings of the world, where the oldest -- and most powerful -- stories reside…

Although Gaiman himself had difficulty classifying the genre-transcending Anansi Boys (he called it a "a magical-horror-thriller-ghost-romantic-comedy-family-epic"), this myth- and folklore-powered fantasy combines the magic realism of Charles de Lint's Newford sequence and the rich African storytelling traditions of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart with the allegories of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. Fans of the intense and unsettling American Gods will enjoy this lighter -- yet equally thought-provoking -- look at the influence of myth. Paul Goat Allen

Charles Taylor
The sections of Anansi Boys that work best are just after Spider turns up in London to stay with Charlie. Able to convince people that he is Charlie, Spider lights a fire under Rosie, Charlie's fiancee, who was saving herself for marriage; and he uncovers proof that Charlie's boss…has been swindling his clients for years. Throw in Rosie's distinctly unwelcoming mom, the suspicious wife of one of Grahame's swindled clients and…the woman who wakes up in Charlie's bed one morning, and who also happens to be the detective put on the swindling case, and Anansi Boys promises to have all the makings of first-rate farce…The problem…is the type of fantasy Gaiman has chosen. The tales of Anansi outwitting his foes leave you feeling you've eaten something heavy and sugary. There's an Uncle Remus folksiness to the stories that sends the airy blitheness of the farce plummeting down to earth.
—The New York Times Book Review
Elizabeth Hand
With Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman's delightful, funny and affecting new novel, the bestselling author has scored the literary equivalent of a hole in one, employing the kind of self-assured storytelling that makes it all look so easy. One can imagine Gaiman's legion of fans putting down the book and rushing en masse to pen their own riffs on traditional folklore and contemporary pop culture. But it's hard to imagine anyone topping Anansi Boys , if only because it's a tall tale to end all tall tales, inspired by the trickiest of all trickster gods, Anansi the Spider, whose origins lie in Ghana.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Fat Charlie Nancy's normal life is turned upside down when his father dies and a brother he never knew he had shows up at his doorstep. When that brother, Spider, starts to wear out his welcome, Fat Charlie learns that his father was not a man but the trickster god, Anansi, and both he and Spider have inherited some of Dad's godliness. This leads Fat Charlie to explore his own godly heritage in order to be rid of Spider. Listeners of Coraline can attest that Gaiman is a fine reader, so any narrators who read his novels have a lot to live up to. Lenny Henry, however, is absolutely the perfect choice to read Anansi Boys-he not only has Gaiman's cadences and style down pat, but he also ranges his accent from British to Caribbean with ease and provides distinct and memorable voices for all of the characters. An absolutely top-notch performance, one that makes a terrific book even better. Simultaneous release with the Morrow hardcover (Reviews, July 18). (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Fat Charlie's life is about to be spiced up-his estranged father dies in a karaoke bar, and the handsome brother he never knew he had shows up on his doorstep with a gleam in his eye. Next thing he knows, Fat Charlie is being investigated by the police, his fianc e's falling in love with the wrong brother, and he finds out that his father was the god Anansi, Trickster and Spider, and that the beast gods of folklore are plotting their own revenge upon his family bloodline. A fun book with a little of everything-horror, mystery, magic, comedy, song, romance, ghosts, scary birds, ancient grudges, and trademark British wit-it shares ideas and characters with American Gods but conveys a more personal look at the dysfunctions unique to a family of dieties (now this would be one reality show definitely to watch!). Another lovely story as only Gaiman can tell it; necessary and recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/05.]-Ann Kim, Library Journal Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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 fianc e, 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 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The West African spider-trickster god Anansi presides benignly over this ebullient partial sequel to Gaiman's award-winning fantasy American Gods (2001). In his earthly incarnation as agelessly spry "Mr. Nancy," the god has died, been buried and mourned (in Florida), and has left (in England) an adult son called Fat Charlie-though he isn't fat; he is in fact a former "boy who was half a god . . . broken into two by an old woman with a grudge." His other "half" is Charlie's hitherto unknown brother Spider, summoned via animistic magic, thereafter an affable quasi-double and provocateur who steals Charlie's fiance Rosie and stirs up trouble with Charlie's blackhearted boss, "weasel"-like entrepeneur-embezzler Grahame Coats. These characters and several other part-human, part-animal ones mesh in dizzying comic intrigues that occur on two continents, in a primitive "place at the end of the world," in dreams and on a conveniently remote, extradition-free Caribbean island. The key to Gaiman's ingenious plot is the tale of how Spider (Anansi) tricked Tiger, gaining possession of the world's vast web of stories and incurring the lasting wrath of a bloodthirsty mortal-perhaps immortal-enemy. Gaiman juggles several intersecting narratives expertly (though when speaking as omniscient narrator, he does tend to ramble), blithely echoing numerous creation myths and folklore motifs, Terry Southern's antic farces, Evelyn Waugh's comic contes cruel, and even-here and there-Muriel Spark's whimsical supernaturalism. Everything comes together smashingly, in an extended denouement that pits both brothers against all Tiger's malevolent forms, resolves romantic complications satisfactorily and reasserts thepower of stories and songs to represent, sustain and complete us. The result, though less dazzling than American Gods, is even more moving. Intermittently lumpy and self-indulgent, but enormously entertaining throughout. And the Gaiman faithful-as hungry for stories as Tiger himself-will devour it gratefully.
"[Gaiman is] the folksy, witty, foolishly wise narrator to perfection."
Time Magazines Leader
"ANANSI BOYS makes an incredible read."

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.13(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Anansi Boys

By Neil Gaiman

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Neil Gaiman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060515198

Chapter One

Which is Mostly About
Names and Family Relationships

It begins, as most things begin, with a song.

In the beginning, after all, were the words, and they came with a tune. That was how the world was made, how the void was divided, how the lands and the stars and the dreams and the little gods and the animals, how all of them came into the world.

They were sung.

The great beasts were sung into existence, after the Singer had done with the planets and the hills and the trees and the oceans and the lesser beasts. The cliffs that bound existence were sung, and the hunting grounds, and the dark.

Songs remain. They last. The right song can turn an emperor into a laughing stock, can bring down dynasties. A song can last long after the events and the people in it are dust and dreams and gone. That's the power of songs.

There are other things you can do with songs. They do not only make worlds or recreate existence. Fat Charlie Nancy's father, for example, was simply using them to have what he hoped and expected would be a marvelous night out.

Before Fat Charlie's father had come into the bar, the barman had been of the opinion that the whole karaoke evening was going to be an utter bust; but then the little old man had sashayed intothe room, walked past the table of several blonde women with the fresh sunburns and smiles of tourists, who were sitting by the little makeshift stage in the corner. He had tipped his hat to them, for he wore a hat, a spotless green fedora, and lemon-yellow gloves, and then he walked over to their table. They giggled.

"Are you enjoyin' yourselves, ladies?" he asked.

They continued to giggle and told him they were having a good time, thank you, and that they were here on vacation. He said to them, it gets better, just you wait.

He was older than they were, much, much older, but he was charm itself, like something from a bygone age when fine manners and courtly gestures were worth something. The barman relaxed. With someone like this in the bar, it was going to be a good evening.

There was karaoke. There was dancing. The old man got up to sing, on the makeshift stage, not once, that evening, but twice. He had a fine voice, and an excellent smile, and feet that twinkled when he danced. The first time he got up to sing, he sang "What's New Pussycat?" The second time he got up to sing, he ruined Fat Charlie's life.

Fat Charlie was only ever fat for a handful of years, from shortly before the age of ten, which was when his mother announced to the world that if there was one thing she was over and done with (and if the gentleman in question had any argument with it he could just stick it you know where) it was her marriage to that elderly goat that she had made the unfortunate mistake of marrying and she would be leaving in the morning for somewhere a long way away and he had better not try to follow, to the age of fourteen, when Fat Charlie grew a bit and exercised a little more. He was not fat. Truth to tell, he was not really even chubby, simply slightly soft-looking around the edges. But the name Fat Charlie clung to him, like chewing gum to the sole of a tennis shoe. He would introduce himself as Charles or, in his early twenties, Chaz, or, in writing, as C. Nancy, but it was no use: the name would creep in, infiltrating the new part of his life just as cockroaches invade the cracks and the world behind the fridge in a new kitchen, and like it or not -- and he didn't -- he would be Fat Charlie again.

It was, he knew, irrationally, because his father had given him the nickname, and when his father gave things names, they stuck.

There was a dog who had lived in the house across the way, in the Florida street on which Fat Charlie had grown up. It was a chestnut-colored boxer, long-legged and pointy-eared with a face that looked like the beast had, as a puppy, run face-first into a wall. Its head was raised, its tail nub erect. It was, unmistakably, an aristocrat amongst canines. It had entered dog shows. It had rosettes for Best of Breed and for Best in Class and even one rosette marked Best in Show. This dog rejoiced in the name of Campbell's Macinrory Arbuthnot the Seventh, and its owners, when they were feeling familiar, called it Kai. This lasted until the day that Fat Charlie's father, sitting out on their dilapidated porch swing, sipping his beer, noticed the dog as it ambled back and forth across the neighbor's yard, on a leash that ran from a palm tree to a fence post.

"Hell of a goofy dog,"said Fat Charlie's father. "Like that friend of Donald Duck's. Hey Goofy."

And what once had been Best in Show suddenly slipped and shifted. For Fat Charlie, it was as if he saw the dog through his father's eyes, and darned if he wasn't a pretty goofy dog, all things considered. Almost rubbery.

It didn't take long for the name to spread up and down the street. Campbell's Macinrory Arbuthnot the Seventh's owners struggled with it, but they might as well have stood their ground and argued with a hurricane. Total strangers would pat the once proud boxer's head, and say, "Hello, Goofy. How's a boy?" The dog's owners stopped entering him in dog shows soon after that. They didn't have the heart. "Goofy-looking dog," said the judges.

Fat Charlie's father's names for things stuck. That was just how it was.

That was far from the worst thing about Fat Charlie's father.

There had been, during the years that Fat Charlie was growing up, a number of candidates for the worst thing about his father: his roving eye and equally as adventurous fingers, at least according to the young ladies of the area, who would complain to Fat Charlie's mother, and then there would be trouble; the little black cigarillos, which he called cheroots, which he smoked, the smell of which clung to everything he touched; his fondness for a peculiar shuffling form of tap dancing only ever fashionable, Fat Charlie suspected, for half an hour in Harlem in the 1920s; his total and invincible ignorance about current world affairs, combined with his apparent conviction that sitcoms were half-hour-long insights into the lives and struggles of real people. These, individually, as far as Fat Charlie was concerned, were none of them the worst thing about Fat Charlie's father, although each of them had contributed to the worst thing.

The worst thing about Fat Charlie's father was simply this: He was embarrassing.

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's father, of course, had elevated this to an art form, and he rejoiced in it, just as he rejoiced in practical jokes, from the simple -- Fat Charlie would never forget the first time he had climbed into an apple-pie bed -- to the unimaginably complex.


Excerpted from Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman Copyright © 2006 by Neil Gaiman. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Stephen King
[Gaiman] is, simply put, a treasure house of story, and we are lucky to have him in any medium.

Meet the Author

Neil Gaiman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains; the Sandman series of graphic novels; and the story collections Smoke and Mirrors, Fragile Things, and Trigger Warning. He is the winner of numerous literary honors, including the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, and the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. Originally from England, he now lives in the United States. He is Professor in the Arts at Bard College.

Brief Biography

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date of Birth:
November 10, 1960
Place of Birth:
Portchester, England
Attended Ardingly College Junior School, 1970-74, and Whitgift School, 1974-77

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Anansi Boys 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 284 reviews.
jpquibrera More than 1 year ago
Neil Gaiman delivers a resplandescent book that talks about pretty much everything. What I loved about this book was the fact that when you start reading it you think it's just an urban kind of story (the only thing the back cover says is that Charlie's father dies and he was supposed to be a God), and the more you read the more you discover what the story is about. It is fascinating: it's a wild, deep, touching story about magic, love, life, and everything you want to read about. Who would I recommend this book to? ANYONE! This book really is perfect, and if you haven't read it you're already missing a part of your heart. Trust me: "Anansi Boys" isn't at all what it seems - it's much, much more, and it changed my life. Neil Gaiman is now one of my favorite writers, his writing is so... gobsmackingly good! By the way, this book is so hilariously sarcastic sometimes that, when I was reading it at school, my teachers and classmates often asked me "are you actually laughing because of a book?", since I couldn't stop chortling and sometimes my laughs interrupted the teacher's lecture. It's just amazing. READ IT please. There's no alternative here: if you see "Anansi Boys" by Neil Gaiman, you BUY IT and you START READING as soon as possible. Believe me - it's worth every dollar, every minute of it.
JustSumGuyInNC More than 1 year ago
As other reviewers have said, this is the sequel to American Gods, which I have also read. This is far less dark than that book. The lead character is called "Fat Charlie" even though he is not fat. Frankly, that got to be annoying for me, but that's about the only negative criticism I would lay on the book. The story does weave in and out of the supernatural dream-like world that was in evidence in American Gods, and for me those sections were a bit tedious at times, but it was part of the flavor of the book and again not nearly as ominous as in the earlier book. If you enjoyed American Gods, you will enjoy Anansi Boys, quite possibly even more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading (and loving) 'American Gods' I picked up this one. I found I had a much harder time liking the characters...tho perhaps that was his intent. I stuck it out & ended up liking the book as a whole, but it didn't have the same pull for me that AG did.
misteranderson More than 1 year ago
This is my first read of Neil Gaiman. It was a quick and easy read. Gaiman's use of the English language makes it easy to visualize a scene. The scenes he creates tend to lead to some strange places. I liked the mixing o folklore and modern times. It led me to West African and Caribbean folklore and I will read more of Mr. Gaiman. If clever, descriptive, fantastic fiction is what you are into - this is a good read.
Greystrider More than 1 year ago
This was my first Gaiman book. I enjoyed the casual approach and the crackling language but felt a little like a stone skipping along the surface of a pond: there was, I'm sure, profundity below the surface but it was never the author's intention to delve into it. That's not really a complaint, although I realize it sounds like one. This really was an enjoyable read. It just felt like a missed opportunity, as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great sequel, Gaiman did it again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very entertaining. Magical, romantic, suspenseful. Sibling rivalry at it's finest. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! Well written as all of Mr. Gaimans books are. Kept me reading lon after I should have turned out the lights. The characters are believable. The pplot well crafted.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good i suggest to those who enjoy action packed books
pkay More than 1 year ago
As usual, Neil Gaiman has created a wonderous world, very mysterious and somewhat dark. Excellent read and worth reading more than once. I highly recommend this to those who like offbeat fantasy.
DeDeFlowers More than 1 year ago
Anansi Boys is the follow-up to American Gods. Anansi Boys took me a little while to get into. I struggled through the first couple chapters, but after that I really got into it. This book is classic Gaiman. It's dark comedy and fantasy at its finest. You will love the characters and be wrapped up in the story until the very end! It is a great book for both fantasy lovers and non-lovers alike. It makes your imagination run wild.
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but disappointing after American Gods. Just not as much fun, not as engaging.
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MrRayne77 More than 1 year ago
I loved this novel. I really wish I had read American Gods prior. Loved every page, every scene. 
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This was a great follow up read after American Gods while having a new feel of the same universe.