Adapting the Story of Suibhne in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods

Victoria Yee Wei Wen


Neil Gaiman’s depiction of America as a mythic place in American Gods explores “the soul of America” – what immigrants brought with them to America and what they found there. Existing scholarship explores Gaiman’s use of mythology and folklore to create a complex, post-modern narrative that is derived from different sources. This paper will focus specifically on Gaiman’s adaptation and re-creation of the Irish king Suibhne (also known as Sweeney) from different mythic narratives, forming an intertextual narrative that shows the power of storytelling in the formation of cultural identity. Further, he uses the wandering figure of Suibhne to explore the issues surrounding Irish diaspora: their emigration to America, and the implications of this cultural dislocation.

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