American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition: A Novel

Newly updated and expanded with the author’s preferred text. A modern masterpiece from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction, Neil Gaiman.

First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic, lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose” (Washington Post) and as a modern phantasmagoria that “distills the essence of America” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It is the story of Shadow—released from prison just days after his wife and best friend are killed in an accident—who gets recruited to be bodyguard, driver, and errand boy for the enigmatic trickster, Mr. Wednesday. So begins Shadow’s dark and strange road trip, one that introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. For, beneath the placid surface of everyday life, a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and Shadow is standing squarely in its path.

“Pointed, occasionally comic, often scary, consistently moving and provocative….American Gods is strewn with secrets and magical visions.”—USA Today

“Original, engrossing, and endlessly inventive.”—George R. R. Martin

American Gods is Neil Gaiman’s best and most ambitious novel yet, a scary, strange, and hallucinogenic road-trip story wrapped around a deep examination of the American spirit. Gaiman tackles everything from the onslaught of the information age to the meaning of death, but he doesn’t sacrifice the razor-sharp plotting and narrative style he’s been delivering since his Sandman days.

Shadow gets out of prison early when his wife is killed in a car crash. At a loss, he takes up with a mysterious character called Wednesday, who is much more than he appears. In fact, Wednesday is an old god, once known as Odin the All-father, who is roaming America rounding up his forgotten fellows in preparation for an epic battle against the upstart deities of the Internet, credit cards, television, and all that is wired. Shadow agrees to help Wednesday, and they whirl through a psycho-spiritual storm that becomes all too real in its manifestations. For instance, Shadow’s dead wife Laura keeps showing up, and not just as a ghost–the difficulty of their continuing relationship is by turns grim and darkly funny, just like the rest of the book.

Armed only with some coin tricks and a sense of purpose, Shadow travels through, around, and underneath the visible surface of things, digging up all the powerful myths Americans brought with them in their journeys to this land as well as the ones that were already here. Shadow’s road story is the heart of the novel, and it’s here that Gaiman offers up the details that make this such a cinematic book–the distinctly American foods and diversions, the bizarre roadside attractions, the decrepit gods reduced to shell games and prostitution. “This is a bad land for Gods,” says Shadow.

More than a tourist in America, but not a native, Neil Gaiman offers an outside-in and inside-out perspective on the soul and spirituality of the country–our obsessions with money and power, our jumbled religious heritage and its societal outcomes, and the millennial decisions we face about what’s real and what’s not. –Therese Littleton

Nanci Arvizu, Writing and Reviews Editor

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3 Comments

  1. The best edition to a masterpiece There are so many reviews of the old book I won’t spend much time doing that here. It is a modern day masterpiece. One that will be remembered for a long time. 

  2. “This Is a Bad Place For Gods…” Released from prison shortly after the accidental death of his wife, ex-con Shadow finds himself free, but bereft of all the things that gave his previous life meaning. As he bids his farewell to the fragments of that life, an eerie stranger named Mr. Wednesday offers him employment. Wednesday needs someone to act as aid, driver, errand boy, and, in case of Wednesday’s death, someone to hold a vigil for him. Shadow consents and finds himself drawn unsuspectingly into a cryptic reality where…

  3. Tasty, Yet Unsastisfying The three star rating that I have given to American Gods is reflective of the ambivalence I feel toward it. I enjoyed reading it, and found it a real page-turner. The concept was fascinating and the mythological elements were interesting and clever in their American guises. So what’s the problem? It is akin to the old chestnut about eating Chinese food – after devouring 600 plus pages of Mr. Gaiman’s novel I found that I was still hungry, still unsatisfied despite the tastiness of Gaiman’s…

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