American Gods - Neil Gaiman (2001)

This book is not just about gods. This is also a story about what we choose to do with our gods.

Gaiman once again crafts a beautiful tale rich in menace and wonder. From brawling leprechauns to Egyptian undertakers you can feel the weight of centuries hanging off these characters as they struggle - and fail - to survive in a new and faithless world far from their birthplaces. Immigrants bring the gods of their homelands to America, where those gods — just like the people who brought them — change and adapt to their new culture. One example is when Czernobog, the god of darkness in Slavic mythology, who demanded sacrifices with a hammer in return for protection, channels his godly penchant for violence into a job at the American industrial meat factories.

Czernobog is not alone in having to find a place for himself in the new world. Throughout the book are interspersed side stories which fill out the pantheons of the old world and give a sense that there are forgotten gods in abundance all trying to make their way in a world that no longer cares about them.

American Gods is full of surreal settings, from an idyllic snowy Wisconsin mountain town hiding a dark secret to the aeons old home of a bison-god deep beneath the earth, each of them with its own recurring motifs, themes and personalities.

Some have found this book strange and thoughtful, others slow and uninteresting. I think I would put it somewhere in the middle. Gaiman takes a good premise and writes a good book, but I won’t be in a rush to read it again.

Pod Melia (Launceston Chapter)