“There’s a scene early on in American Gods, the best-selling 2001 fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman, where someone accuses a man of being a “hustler.” “But that is the least of what I am,” the man replies. “On the whole, I make my money from people who never know they’ve been taken, and who never complain, and who will frequently line up to be taken when I come back that way again.” Gaiman, himself, is that same sort of hustler-plus — a weaver of fictions who slips past your mental defenses and toys with your thoughts, not just stealing the minds of his legions of fans, but making them beg him to steal them again and again.
The 56-year-old Englishman got his start writing thoughtful twists on superhero comics in his native country, then broke big with his surreal fantasy-comic epic Sandman in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Since then, he’s amassed a worldwide following for his prose, penning best seller after best seller: Anansi Boys, Coraline, The Graveyard Book, Good Omens(with the late Terry Pratchett), The Ocean at the End of the Lane, andFragile Things, just to name a few.
But American Gods is perhaps the best-known of the bunch. It follows the tribulations of Shadow Moon, an ex-convict who wanders the U.S. — Gaiman’s adopted country for more than two decades — alongside a mysterious con man named Mr. Wednesday. Along the way, Wednesday and Shadow link up with ancient gods from an array of Old World pantheons, all of whom are living in obscurity in the hidden corners of a decaying America…”