This is one of my favourite books of all time having read it on a bus trip across Canada. Not only did it detract from the hundreds of miles of corn fields, it also helped me get hooked on Neil Gaiman’s fiction.
The central premise is that Shadow, having been released from prison, is on a plane trip home when he finds himself seated next to a mysterious man. This man introduces himself as Mr. Wednesday. He ends up offering Shadow a job as a bodyguard. Together they travel the USA meeting all kinds of strange people in an attempt to bring them together for a purpose that Shadow is not particularly clear about.
It is gradually revealed that these are the gods of the old world (can you figure out who Mr. Wednesday is?), from mythology and they are locked in a battle with new gods (people who go by the name of “internet”, “roads”, “skyscraper” etc). This is metaphor heavy but not pretentious and what results is an amazing commentary on modern life’s eternal struggle of progress vs tradition.
It isn’t preachy, nor is he trying to sway us in any particular direction. Rather, Gaiman is simply observing the eternal struggle and presenting us with how both are important aspects of humanity. Gaiman is intent on telling us a story, and what a story he has in store for us!
American Gods won a plethora of awards and in my opinion deservedly so:
* 2002 Hugo
* 2002 Neblua
* 2002 Locus
* 2002 SFX Reader awards (UK’s premier SciFi magazine)
* 2002 Bram Stoker award
* 2004 Geffen Award
and a multitude of other nominations!