three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
19-Nov-Dec-2005
By: 
Neil Gaiman
user_rating: 
0

A-AnansiBoysFat Charlie, so named by his estranged father, is an American-born Londoner working as a bookkeeper and engaged to a woman named Rosie. When his cavorting father dies, Charlie returns to Florida to attend the funeral. There, he picks up some surprising tidbits from an old neighbor. First, his father was a god (a form of Anansi, the African trickster-man spider). Second, he has a long-lost brother, Spider, who can be contacted by summoning an arachnid. Thinking his neighbor mad, Charlie shrugs off this information and returns to London. Then Spider shows up, only to steal Charlie’s fiancé and get Charlie fired from his job. Things couldn’t get worse, until Charlie tries to use magic himself.
William Morrow. 352 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 006051518X

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"Anansi Boys is one of the finest screwball comedies to come along since To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. Except that when Gaiman does screwball comedy, he mixes in liberal doses of horror and crime fiction." Dorman T. Shindler

Minneapolis Star Tribune 4 of 5 Stars
"Gaiman is witty and engaging, but his power is more as a storyteller than as a stylist, and I think what his fans find so appealing about his stories is that they are comforting, no matter how scary, like a good bedtime tale." Eric Hanson

San Antonio Exp-News 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Ghosts, witches, African folklore and mermaids are all common to Gaiman’s world. . . . There is nothing particularly deep to be found within its pages, but anyone who appreciates subtle British humor, postmodern fantasy, or just a good yarn about sibling rivalry won’t regret picking it up." Sam Stoeltje

Entertainment Weekly 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Whenever Gaiman runs into a narrative jam, he veers off in an exhilarating new direction, a diversionary tactic that starts to feel like a cheat. In his gravity-free fictional universe, nothing he has to say seems to carry any weight." Jennifer Reese

Critical Summary

In the bestselling American Gods (2001), the gods of old European, African, and other mythologies retired as ordinary, if eccentric, people. One of these gods, Charlie’s father, appears in the follow-up novel, Anansi Boys. Gaiman, best known for his 1990s Sandman comic book series, describes his new work as "a magical-horror-thriller-ghost-romantic-comedy-family-epic," and critics agree that it’s all that and more. Some noted the conventional nature of the comedy-drama part, with a fast-paced plot driving a narrative about good and evil. And as fantasy, Anansi Boys "is certainly quite inventive, if not revolutionary" (San Antonio Express-News). Overall, Gaiman’s novel is witty, giddy, and exhilarating—if not quite as satisfying as some of his previous work.