Neil Gaiman's "American Gods" 10 years later

Here and Now

Photograph of Neil Gaiman (image by Flickr user dtd72 (by:cc))

Story by PRI's Here and Now. For more, listen to the audio above.

A special ten-year Anniversary edition of the New York Times bestseller and award-winning novel, "American Gods" has been released. The book is the story of people immigrating to America, with their ancient gods in tow. Once settled in the US, the immigrants abandon their traditional gods for new gods: the American gods of the stock market and the internet. The ancient gods must battle with the new deities for power among the Americans.

Twenty-four-year-old Alissa Greenberg first read "American Gods" when it originally came out in 2001. Since then, she has read it another 10 times. Greenberg says, "As somebody who’s really interested in other cultures and religions, I loved seeing them all put together, and answering the question, you know, 'what would happen if they all had to exist together."

As a part of Here and Now's series, "Page Turners: Ask The Author," Greenberg asks author Neil Gaiman about writing a book filled with delicate and subtle foreshadowing. "I wanted to write something that the first time through would reveal itself to you like a magic trick -- you wouldn't actually see how it was done -- you would be surprised by things that happened in the plot," Gaiman says, "but I loved the idea of writing something that once you'd read it that once, if you […] reread it, you would see the way that everything had actually been set up."

The English author -- he's also written Stardust, Coraline, Good Omens and Neverwhere -- chose to set the American novel over the course of a road trip, because he says "it's the one thing you can't do in England […] because if you drive for a day, you've run out of road."

Gaiman says that he loves roadside America in all of its forms. He talks about a fascination with the American tendency to erect idiosyncratic items that can guide roadtrips like, "a life-size copy of the largest cheese in the world as displayed at the 1962 world's fair."

Although much has happened since the book was originally published in 2001, Gaiman says that the fundamental cultural commentary in "American Gods" has stayed true. He recognizes that in the last ten years, some gods have come and gone -- like the god of Myspace -- "I managed to get something, whether by accident or by design, very, very right in American Gods."

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