When Fat Charlie's dad named something, it stuck. Like calling Fat Charlie "Fat Charlie." Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can't shake that name, one of the many embarrassing "gifts" his father bestowed, before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie's life.
Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things. Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie's doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew. A brother as different from Charlie as night is from day, a brother who's going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun, just like Dear Old Dad. And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie.
Because, you see, Charlie's dad wasn't just any dad. He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god. Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, and baffle the devil. Some said he could cheat even Death himself.
Returning to the territory he so brilliantly explored in his masterful New York Times best seller American Gods, the incomparable Neil Gaiman offers up a work of dazzling ingenuity, a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth that is at once startling, terrifying, exhilarating, and fiercely funny, a true wonder of a novel that confirms Stephen King's glowing assessment of the author as "a treasure house of story, and we are lucky to have him."
©2005 Neil Gaiman; (P)2005 HarperCollins Publishers
" "Excellent." (Stephen King)
"It's Gaiman's focus on Charlie and Charlie's attempts to return to normalcy that make the story so winning...along with gleeful, hurtling prose." (Publishers Weekly)
I'm fairly new to audiobooks, and every purchase still feels like a bit of a gamble. I prefer to listen to books I haven't already read in print, and finding a good book that's also a good audibook seems to be a matter of chance. Anansi Boys was a gamble that paid off handsomely.
The novel itself is as clever and original as I expected from Neil Gaiman. It's peopled by amazingly colorful, likable characters who give rise to a wonderful plot. I'm sure I'd have enjoyed the story very much in the written form.
But the narration! Wow! The reader has a beautiful voice and a nuanced set of accents and speech styles that make the listening a continuous pleasure. Some of the story's witticisms are laugh-out-loud funny, largely, I suspect, because of the reader's own droll delivery.
If you like fantasy-oriented fiction and prefer your audiobooks beautifully narrated with simple production values, add Anansi Boys to your list.
Anansi Boys is a wonderful book by a versatile and entertaining author, Neil Gaiman. But this review is about the book's reader--Lenny Henry, who is an absolutely amazing performer. I've listened to a lot of audiobooks and some very good readers, but Lenny Henry is head and shoulders above all the rest--including Jim Dale. His characterizations--of both males and females--are so good that you forget the reader and only hear the character. In this book, he does Caribbean, American, and several British accents, all utterly convincing. He also differentiates the characters beautifully. I rarely listen to an audiobook twice. This one is an exception.
I bought this audio book on a whim and could not be happier that I did. What a great story and amazing audio production. The book itself is just about perfect.... so creative and fun to read. The characters are developed just perfectly enough to keep the reader involved, but not 'weighted down'. And the characters intertwine so well. Neil Gaimen has simply created an amazing story.
But what really makes this audiobook one of the best I've ever listened to is the narration. Lenny Henry does a near perfect job here. He adds so much to an already great story. I just wish he'd narrate more!
I cannot recommend this book enough for a fun, funny, completely captivating and utterly entertaining audiobook.
this is such a rich and finely woven story. Neil Gaiman's ability to entertain with the written word is nearly overwhelming at times. the characters are all multi-diminsional and fascinating and i personally had several laugh-out-loud moments. i was enjoying it so much i was a bit startled when it was over so quickly. in addition to the story being so wonderful of it's own accord, Lenny Henry narrated it perfectly. he breathed life into the characters and gave a warm ambiance to the background. i hope to find more books narrated by him in the future as he's terrific at it. i could type all day and still not be able to say enough good things about this production...so, i'll just say it was a spectacular audio experience and i would highly recommend it.
Buy this audiobook! The pairing of Neil Gaiman and Lenny Henry is a gift to lovers of audiobooks. You will not be disappointed.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
I have been putting off reading this book primarily because the narrator is not Neil Gaiman, and I have not listened to any of his books not read by him. But because it has been strongly recommended to me by a dear friend, and the reviews rate Lenny Henry’s reading very highly, I jumped in. And so glad I did.
None of my previous experience with Gaiman prepared me for this story. (Have not read American Gods yet.) While still magical, the tone is vastly different from Neverwhere, Stardust, and (my new favorite) The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Tapping into African folk tales, Gaiman has woven a mythical mash-up of the living and the afterworld, humans and animals, reality and perception, and does it with huge splashes of humor that will have you laughing out loud in spite of yourself. (I may even consider giving Kareoke a try.) I loved that the lightness of tone survives and overcomes the dark goings-on as ancient mythical grudges seep into the present day lives of the Anansi brothers.
My reservations about Lenny Henry as the reader were totally unfounded. His vocal agility successfully tackles every accent, age, gender, and even the animal kingdom. Since the source fables have been passed down through oral tradition, it is very appropriate to listen to this book rather than to read it. In print I suspect the impact would have been reduced by at least half.
Poet, Writer, Novice Planetary Scientist, Musician, Hooligan, Former Audience Guy, Protector of Stupid Princesses.
I read Anansi Boys after American Gods, and loved both of them. Anansi Boys is wise and funny, and the narrator does a great job.
I can't help thinking that "Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul" by Douglas Adams casts a shadow somewhere... I don't know where, but I kept remembering Clean White Sheets while I was listening and that has nothing to do with this story.
Anansi Boys lifted me up, made me think and entertained me.
Neil Gaimen produces yet another excellent book. The blend of old tales and old gods into modern life was just as enjoyable as in American Gods. There is a rhythm to this story that is only improved on with Lenny Henry as the narrator. I am disappointed to not find any other books done by him because he is an excellent narrator--his general speaking voice is enjoyable to listen to and his characters really come to life. Beautiful written and beautifully done.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
After having just read American Gods and been totally submerged into a deep, dark ocean of bleakness, this book was like surfacing into a cool, clear pool of refreshing fun and frolic. Hard to believe anyone could have read the book better than Lenny Henry. It is not easy to impersonate various character voices in a book; it has to be even more difficult to convey their feelings and personalities. Few readers do even one of these well. Henry does both and seems to do so quite effortlessly. While a followup, Anansi Boys is not a sequel to American Gods. If you have not read Neil Gaiman this book along with Graveyard Story or Stardust might be a better place to start. Do not introduce yourself to NG with American Gods. While the latter could become your favorite NG, I doubt most would feel similarly.
I buy very very few audiobooks. I almost never listen to them more than once and why pay several times the paperback price for something you won't enjoy again and again?. It's much cheaper to simply borrow them from the library, listen to them, then return them. Win-win situation: I enjoy the book, and save anywhere from 15-40 dollars by not purchasing the audio.
HOWEVER: The terrific combination of Neil Gaiman's writing - alternately funny and terrifying but always riveting - and Lenny Henry's spot-on delivery, make this an audiobook well worth owning. Neil Gaiman is one of the finest writers out there and we have never been disappointed. Lenny Henry has been a favorite of ours since we became addicted to his TV series Chef!, and he *is* Charlie Nancy to me now. I have listened to it at least twice now and fully expect my whole family to enjoy it for years to come.
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