Anansi: Background information when reading Anansi Boys

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Anansi Boys

by Neil Gaiman

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman X
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2005, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2006, 416 pages

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Anansi

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Anansi is one of the gods in West African mythology, sometimes depicted in human form, sometimes as a spider, sometimes as a hybrid.  He's tricky, greedy and lustful, but he's also good-hearted, lucky, and although often bad, never evil.  The legends are believed to have originated with the Ashanti tribe (from Ghana) but spread through the Akan people (the Akan being a number of different West African tribes linked by a shared language).  As the son of Nyame, the sky god, some myths said that Anansi created the sun, the stars and the moon, and taught mankind how to farm.  He is also considered the King of All Stories.

Anansi himself was only caught once, when he was tricked into fighting a tar-baby - and if that story sounds as familiar to you as it did to me, it's probably because you remember theBr'er Rabbit stories which have their roots in African-American folktales, and are retellings of the Anansi stories.

Filed under Cultural Curiosities

This article relates to Anansi Boys. It first ran in the October 19, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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