First up is Neil Gaiman's, American Gods. The novel imagines that the gods of American immigrants followed them to the United States and assimilated, losing their powers as they were forgotten. Gods of death became slaughterhouse workers, gods of fortune found work as fortune tellers, gods of love became prostitutes, etc. The story follows an ex-con named Shadow as he falls into this surreal world of the old gods and their fight with the new gods of technology. The story is set in a strange and often unexplored side of middle America that feels very familiar.
Next up is the third book in Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan series. The entire series follows the lives of two friends from early childhood, young adulthood and now, with Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the readers pick up with Elena who find success as a writer and leaves Naples to marry a professor. Her friend Leila stays in Naples and the two navigate Italy during a turbulent time; from workers strikes, the violence of change, feminism , and the separation of classes Ferrante uses the narrative of the friendship to highlight the climate of Naples and Italy during the time. The characters are richly developed, flawed and human. I finished this book and immediately began the final book in the series.
The Story of a Lost Child is the finale of the four part series. The friendships between the two women continues on; sometimes they are closer and other times distant in each other's lives. The story follows the two women as they raise children, begin and end relationships, find success and failure, endure loss, grow, and address the challenges of human life. The greatest accomplishment of this series is the successful recounting of lives lived over a lifetime. The characters age and grow. When the book concluded I was struck by the way that Ferrante had managed to highlight how lives are so deeply impacted by choices, temperaments, and chance. I am now grieving the end of the series and going through a character withdrawal, I want to know more about these women, their words are in my mind.