Another terrific Neil Gaiman book – is there any other kind? Anansi Boys is set in the same territory as American Gods, the nexus of humanity and godliness. In this case, the god in question thinks he is human, and only slowly comes to understand that his family is not just mildly dysfunctional, but is downright otherworldly.
Gaiman’s ability to take on the voice of a character so decidedly unlike himself is uncanny. I understand that that is the job of the novelist, but still. The atmosphere ranges from the mundane to the bizarre, and I could always picture myself in the scene. There’s something Everyman about Fat Charlie, which makes his realization of his godliness very satisfying.
The clumsy, always slightly-behind-the-curve child of a charmed ne’er-do-well, Charlie has no interest in revisiting his childhood home after his father’s death. It turns out that some childhood fears are well-deserved; the frightening neighborhood ladies of his youth are in fact witches of a sort. As the layers slowly peel away, Fat Charlie is dragged into the realization that what he thought were dreams are real, and that he has a family unlike any other.
One of the things Neil Gaiman does really well is interweave the supernatural with the every day. The more fantastical elements of the story are counterbalanced with reality: difficult boss, demanding girlfriend. The result is a hero who provokes your frustration, but who you can’t help rooting for.