Gods are popular right now. Not the traditional Judeo-Christian Yahweh, Muslim Allah or Jesus that thousands of people around the world revere and worship. But the “old gods” – the Greco-Roman pantheon, Norse warlords, even HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu – are reappearing in novels, film and TV adaptations that bring them into the modern world.
The most important of them is probably that of Rick Riordan Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Neil Gaiman american gods. Both also branched out into Egyptian deities and Asgardian adventures. HBO Max received critical acclaim Lovecraft Countrybased on the eldritch-inspired novel by Matt Ruff.
Russell Nohelty comes launched a Kickstarter for the end of his 11-novel Godsverse saga about gods causing the apocalypse and made a series of comedy anthologies about Cthulhu. Graphic novelist George O’Connor recently released the latest issue of its Olympians series – turning Greek gods into Marvel-esque superheroes. A bit like Thor and Loki.
Rizwan Assad took a different approach – instead of throwing normal people into the realms or machinations of the gods, the gods themselves come to the fore, sort of. The gods live among mortals – not toying with them for sports or manipulating things behind the scenes. They are just happy to live their life.
New mythological visions
In Assad’s first novel, Dio in the dark, the man once known as the god of wine and song, Dionysus, is a slacker, partying all night in his chosen city of Toronto. his brother Apollo is a failed rock star who has adopted the life of a hermit.
Their father, Zeus, now Zed, is a sanitary worker, considered a bit crazy because he always complains about the coming darkness. Dio has no interest in Zed’s antics, disagreeing with his father, believing that Zed is responsible for the death of Dio’s human mother.
But when Zed goes missing, Dio must motivate himself and Apollo to get up and find their father, before destruction descends upon Canada.
It’s no surprise that Riz Asad writes so compellingly about Toronto. It’s also his chosen city, where he works in the financial industry, runs a popular food blog, Chocolates and Chai, and hangs out with his cat (the subject of another of his books).
Chocolates and Chai focuses on breakfast and comfort food recipes. Asad began writing, inspired by the international cuisine he had encountered in the years before moving to Toronto. The blog’s goal was to discover and illuminate her and others’ love for food and to share the stories behind the dishes. It has been highlighted in national publications and some of the recipes have made it onto the menus of upscale hotels.
Prior to his mythological tales, Asad wrote some horror short stories. A few of them have been the subject of published anthologies. Dio himself began as a short story which Asad expanded into the 200+ page novel. In addition to his fictional works, Asad has compiled his best chocolate and chai recipes into a free e-cookbook.
As for the world of Dio and Zed, readers’ delight – Asad is currently writing a follow-up book in that universe, coming soon, maybe even by the end of this year.
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