American Gods

American Gods is a novel by Neil Gaiman. The novel is an ambitious blend of Americana, fantasy, and various strands of ancient and modern mythology, all centering on a mysterious and taciturn protagonist, Shadow. It was Gaiman's fourth prose novel, being preceded by Good Omens (a collaboration with Terry Pratchett), Neverwhere, and Stardust (a fairy tale illustrated by Charles Vess). Several of the themes touched upon in the book were previously glimpsed in The Sandman graphic novels, for which Gaiman is best known.

The book was published in 2001 by Headline in the UK and by William Morrow in the United States. It has won the 2002 Hugo, Nebula and Bram Stoker awards, all for Best Novel. It was also nominated for Best Novel in the 2002 BSFA Award.

While Gaiman was writing American Gods, his publishers set up a promotional web site featuring a weblog in which Gaiman described the day-to-day process of writing (and then revising, publishing, promoting) the novel. After the novel was published, the web site evolved into a more general Official Neil Gaiman Web Site, and as of 2005 Gaiman still regularly adds to the weblog, describing the day-to-day process of being Neil Gaiman and writing, revising, publishing, or promoting whatever the current project is.

The book follows the adventures of ex-convict Baldur "Shadow" Moon, aka Mike Ainsel, upon his early release from prison. He is hired by the mysterious Mr. Wednesday to act as an escort and bodyguard, and travels across America visiting Wednesday's colleagues and acquaintances. Gradually, it is revealed that Wednesday is an incarnation of Odin the All-Father, who is recruiting American manifestations of the Old Gods of ancient mythology, whose powers have waned as their believers have decreased in number, to participate in an epic battle against the New American Gods, manifestations of the internet, media, money, and modern life.

Mythological characters prominently featured in the book include Odin, Loki, Czernobog, Anansi, Kali, Thoth, and Anubis. In addition to the numerous figures from real-world myths, a few characters from The Sandman and its spinoffs make brief cameos in the book, including Delirium of the Endless.

According to Gaiman, American Gods is not based on Diana Wynne Jones's Eight Days of Luke, "although they bear an odd relationship, like second cousins once removed or something." When working on the structure of a story linking gods and days of the week, he realised that this idea had already been done in Eight Days of Luke. So he abandoned the idea, but later used the character Wednesday and the day of meeting when writing American Gods.

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