Friday, October 28, 2016

HS Book Group Goes Trickster with Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys

Tiny gathering for this afternoon's book club, but when the dedicated gather, interesting discussion happens.  We listened to the NPR Q&A (students hadn't realized that Neil Gaiman is British), and talked about the issues of race, our recollections of Anansi stories from picture books in the elementary library, and the godlike nature of parents. Usually for teenagers,  parents go from godlike to human, and that's when they become seriously irritating. For Fat Charlie, his father goes from a seriously irritating human to a god, and becomes more understandable and helpful.  Hmmm.

The collage below represents 11 years of Anansi Boys cover art, since publication in 2005.  Check out the "retro" cover (click on the image for more info) -- it was 'specially designed for the mass market edition (like old Dashiell Hammet stories) just released this week!  We talked about how it's accurate in the depiction of Mr. Nancy (don't think he ever got a first name) and the beginning of the story, but doesn't really show what the book's about.

1st edition hardback cover

paperback cover

paperback cover

paperback cover
2016 "Retro" Cover --
Just published this week!

 NPR interview with Neil Gaiman

We also talked a little bit about how Neil Gaiman is white, and he's writing about (and from the point of view of) black characters.  If you've listened to the interview above, you'll know that this is very deliberate on the author's part.   One student commented that the novel is about brothers, girlfriends, parents and folktales, rather than about the experiences of a specifically black man.  Sort of like The Snowy Day is about a little guy in a snowsuit having a great time.  The experience is universal, regardless of the external appearance of the main character.

Next up is The Art of Racing in the Rain -- a regular guy's life as seen by his dog, who's seen it all.

Neil GaimanActor Lenny Henry,
Neil Gaiman's inspiration for Fat Charlie
Lenny Henry in 2006

Greg Changnon's Reading Group Questions
(on ProQuest -- use our database pw or click link at school for access)

Reading Group Questions --

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