What is a summary of Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Neil Gaiman based his novel Anansi Boys on the West African and Carribean folkloric god Anansi. The god can appear in either the form of a spider, of a man, or of a cross between the two and was originally thought to be the creator of the world but evolved into being believed to have the knowledge of all stories and associated with the written and spoken word. He is also known to be a trickster, a god who plays tricks, especially in order to oppose the will of other gods. Gaiman's novel features Charles Nancy, nicknamed Fat Charlie, and Spider Nancy, sons of Anansi, called Mr. Nancy, who has just died.

In London, Fat Charlie learns his father died in Florida of a heart attack while singing in a karoke bar, and Fat Charlie promptly flies from London to Florida to see to the funeral. When Fat Charlie goes over his father's estate with friend of the family Mrs. Callyanne Higgler, Mrs. Higgler surprises him by telling him exactly who his father really was. She also informs Fat Charlie that Anansi's divine powers were inherited by the older brother who Fat Charlie never knew he had, called Spider. She also tells him he can get in touch with his brother by sending him a message through a spider. So, once back in London, one night while drunk, he whispers to a spider how nice it would be to see his brother, and his suave brother surprisingly appears the next morning.

While staying with Fat Charlie in London, the suave Spider seduces Fat Charlie's fiancee Rosie Noah, leading to a broken engagement. After Fat Charlie drinks away his sorrows, he is too drunk to go to work, so Spider disguises himself as Charlie and goes to work on his behalf. While on the job, Spider discovers Grahame Coats, Charlie's boss, is embezzling from clients.

Spider's discovery leads to further adventures, including Grahame bribing Charlie followed by having Charlie arrested due to framing him for the embezzlement, Spider having Charlie released from prison, and Graham murdering one of his embezzled clients.

Gaiman also further features West African folklore by introducing Spider's enemy Tiger, curses unleashed by Bird Woman, Spider's imprisonment, and Charlie rescuing Spider.

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