American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods

Publisher: William Morrow
ISBN: 0380789035
Genre: fantasy fiction
Pages: 656
Bestsellers: Stardust, American gods

Nightflier Speaks: 
When I moved to America, I took my gods with me.* A ganesh idol, a sai baba photo, an om shaped incense stand. Strange how we travel/move into new places with our beliefs. How we plant our beliefs in the lands we live or locate to. Out of the holy places that I visited during my stay there, I remember visiting a few cathedrals. But America is populated by people of mixed races belonging to different cultures and lands. What is the true myth of America? What is the unified deity that the people who have 'settled' there believe in? Pray to ? Hope from? I have never thought about it personally.

Neil Gaiman's American Gods, though a story about our 'melancholy' hero Shadow and his weird life on the surface, deep down tackles the same question. It is in search of America's soul, its roots. Through the beliefs of the people who live in that land. At no level it raises questions about the reader's belief in god or the 'myth'. It is so unassuming. Its point is to tell the mythological history of America in its own quirky way.

The book opens in a jail, travels all across America, with Shadow and Wednesday (the king of gods), tells you of an impending storm, of a war, introduces you to the most weird folk gods, most of whom reside there through African tribes and the Indians. All this is interspersed with folk lore and tales from the past, manifestations of beliefs and devotion. And the current state of affairs in the land of opportunities. The technology revolution, the worship of credit cards and liquid money and material gratifications. Of course all this is very subtle with allusions so fresh, that Gaiman's imagination does get to you.

Somewhere along the way I also thought about why isn't Shadow reacting to any of the weird things happening to him. Why aren't all these gods and their existence bothering him. But as the book progressed and characters developed, I realized it's all in the belief. If you believe you will react. If you did not it won't matter to you. May be. And since Gaiman manages to play with your psyche as well, for not letting you wander about the mere authenticity of the plot, I think its a writing triumph. There are many subplots and subtexts to the allegories. And its all open to interpretation depending on your belief.

A very not so ordinary read. One of Neil Gaiman's finest. Apparently a lot of research has gone into this book. To not read it will mean missing out on that research at least!

* Of course what I truly believe in is something not suitable for the book review. But I do carry my beliefs (gods) wherever I roam.

Added as a postscript: the ebook I read also had excerpts from the online journal of Neil Gaiman. For anyone who is into serious fiction writing should go through it for the author's creative process. Quite a fun read! (added this after I read it)

Rating: 5/5
Price: 215 Rs. {flipkart}


  1. now this, i like!!!

    seems like you've read all of Gaiman's books. I just finished reading Good Omens by Gaiman and Pratchett. Its hilarious.

  2. I have read just 3!!
    But yea I am onto fragile things and graveyard book now :D


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