Neil Gaiman’s “Norse Mythology” has been rising high on the bestseller list since it was released last month, but one of Gaiman’s older books is finding new life, too.
His classic fantasy novel “American Gods,” first published in 2001, has just been reissued in a gorgeous special edition by the London-based Folio Society. This striking version of the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel arrives in a slipcover and contains a dozen surreal illustrations by Dave McKean. Gaiman and McKean, both from Britain, have worked together on several previous books, including “Violent Cases,” “Black Orchid” and “The Graveyard Book.”
In his introduction to the Folio’s “American Gods,” McKean explains that his “illustrations begin as acrylic paintings on a background of cut papers and photographic textures.” That technique allows him to illustrate this new edition with what looks like a series of gilded nightmares. “The imagery should create an atmosphere,” he writes, “an off-kilter, unrealistic place, where perspective doesn’t work and elements and characters become flattened-out textures, shapes, concepts.”
Gaiman inspires such devotion from his fans that many won’t blink at the $120 price for this handsome book, which uses the author’s “preferred text” from 2003, a brief introduction from 2005 and an afterword from 2001 titled “How Dare You?” (And frankly, $120 is a bargain compared to copies of the limited edition of “American Gods” published by Hill House in 2003. Those editions, limited to 750 signed copies, sell for hundreds, even thousands of dollars more.)
Meanwhile, the Starz network plans to begin a television adaptation of “American Gods” on April 30, which will only drive more readers back to this novel.
Ron Charles is the editor of Book World.
By Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Dave McKean
Folio Society. 537 pp. $120