Anansi Boys: Neil Gaiman

Title: Anansi Boys
Author: Neil Gaiman
Buy it from: Flipkart, Amazon Kindle Store

Anansi is one of the West African gods, a trickster god, a Spider god. Anansi is also the owner of all the stories. The stories used to belong to the Tiger before, but then Anansi acquired them from the Tiger using his cunning. It was a change for the better of course. For the stories which were violent before now became the stories of cunning and wit. Gaiman’s ‘Anansi boys’ is also a story of cunning and wit. Here intelligence overpowers brawn, and good wins over evil.

Fat Charlie had never known that his father Mr. Nancy was the spider god Anansi. It was only when Mr. Nancy died that Charlie discovered this little fact. On the same day he also found out that he had a brother. In one of his several moments of despair, Charlie sends for his brother Spider. Now Charlie has not inherited any of his father’s godliness, it had all gone to Spider. So when Spider decides that he likes Charlie’s home and his girlfriend, Charlie’s simple and depressing life becomes all topsy turvy. What Charlie decides to about this leads to further complications and hilarity. 

Neil Gaiman certainly knows about gods and about stories. I had read his ‘Graveyard book’ before and had totally loved it. I found ‘Anansi boys’ to be just as spectacular. The tricks are clever and the story is full of wit and good humour. The gods and the people are quirky, unpredictable and very likeable. I enjoyed the way Gaiman mixed reality and fantasy like where at one moment you are in a musty old parlour and the next into some weird godland. I also loved the ending and the way all threads are tied up into a pretty bunch. Overall an adorable and completely un-put-downable book.

In conclusion: Great story? Check. Magic? Check. Loads of fun? Check. Should you read it? Yes!!!   

Book Source: Self

The Cat's Table: Michael Ondaatje

Title: The Cat's Table
Author: Michael Ondaatje
Buy it from: FlipkartAmazon Kindle store

The Cat’s Table is the latest novel by Michael Ondaatje, the author known for his outstanding Booker winning novel ‘The English Patient’. I had loved ‘The English Patient’ when I had read it a decade back and when I read it again a couple of years back I loved it even more. So it was interesting for me to read ‘The Cat’s Table’ and see what Ondaatje had to say in his latest work.

The protagonist of this novel is Michael, an eleven year old boy, travelling to England to his mother. He has spent all his life in Colombo, and now heading to an unfamiliar country, to a distant mother is filling him with uncertainty. On the ship, the ocean liner Oronsay, he becomes friends with two other boys, the wild Cassius and the gentle Ramadhin. The boys form a tight group and haunt the nooks and crannies of the ship, and make friends with the crew and the other travellers. Amongst their new friends are also the travellers who are assigned to the same table as theirs, the Cat’s Table. The Cat’s table, the least privileged table on the ship, hosts an assortment of people, a spinster taking pigeons to England, a tailor, a musician, a botanist. As the ship progresses and the young trio learns more about their fellow travellers, they realize that life can be very complex and most simple people can carry fascinating stories hidden in them. With their new knowledge and experiences the boys make a tentative entry into adulthood as they reach the shores of England.    

The Cat’s Table is a deceptively complex novel. It starts off slowly, simply, showing us the assortment of the people on board the Oronsay. Ondaatje’s prose is powerful enough to keep the reader engaged in the slow unfolding of the characters. Then very gradually the story becomes layered, unlikely links are formed and unexpected events occur. It is this part of the novel that I enjoyed the most, the gradual build-up of the events, and the increasing complexity of the relationships. It was interesting to see the individual characters become part of a greater story.

In conclusion: I enjoyed the slow progression of the novel and Ondaatje’s beautiful prose. It was wonderful to experience the geography of the Oronsay’s journey with Ondaatje.

Book Source: Self