Harper Perennial, 2005
Neil Gaiman is a lucky man, unlike the main character of this book, Charles Nancy (aka Fat Charlie), who is always down on his luck (and not fat, just stuck with the name). Fat Charlie is the sort of guy who gets wedged in coach on a trans-Atlantic flight when the caterers forgot to load the sandwiches and bottled water. Fat Charlie happens to be the son of Mr Nancy (aka Anansi), one of the gods from American Gods. But Fat Charlie is boring and dull. All the other characters are more interesting, especially Spider, the brother Fat Charlie never knew, never heard of until the day his father died.
Spider is a party-going play-boy when he shows up at Fat Charlie’s door and turns his brother’s boring life upside-down. Spider is all the things Fat Charlie is not. He’s bold, suave, sophisticated, and he has all his father’s magic. But he’s also lonely, something he didn’t realize until he steps into Fat Charlie’s life and tries it on. Then Spider goes too far– so far as to fall in love with his brother’s fiancee. But Fat Charlie has learned. He becomes bold. He wants rid of his meddling brother. And he goes beyond the ends of the earth to get it done.
In the hands of another writer, I might have put this book down unfinished. There are hints of a Gaiman story throughout the novel, but it wasn’t until chapter 10 that I finally felt I was reading an actual Gaiman story with deep characters and funky plot twists. Until that point, the story felt more like a first novel, though, like I said, there are clues. If I hadn’t kept going, trusting Mr Gaiman, I might never have known such a good story. Maybe that makes me the lucky one.
Anansi Boys is for anyone who enjoyed Neverwhere and American Gods.
Rating: A [I’d definitely read this again. Wish I’d read it sooner.]
You can catch an excerpt at Gaiman’s website.