In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.
Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free
Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker's debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.
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'The Golem and the Jinni' by Helen Wecker might just be your next favorite book:
“An immigrant tale that combines elements of Jewish and Arab folk mythology, The Golem and the Jinni tells the story of two supernatural creatures who arrive separately in New York in 1899.”The setup immediately piqued my interest, and I wasn't disappointed. The Golem and The Jinni is whimsical and sometimes dark, but it focuses on characters first. The story twists and meanders a bit, yet finds its way to what I think is a satisfying end. There might be disagreement between some readers concerning the ending, which is a sign good storytelling. If nobody cares, then a story hasn't achieved much. Arguments and re-reads are the symptoms of a well-told story.
Helene Wecker’s tale of human myth and love make up for any perceived faults with a heart, soul, and a crisp writing style that shifts depending on what character the story follows. The depth of Helene’s research is impressive. She notes as much in the back of the book, but it’s very apparent by the details of the voyage across the Atlantic and those early days the Golem and Jinni spend (apart, at first) in New York City circa 1899.
Bottom Line: As a painstakingly crafted story of love, immigration, and folk mythology, 'The Golem and the Jinni' is a great way to pass the cold winter nights while wrapped in the worries and wonders of seemingly real fictional characters.