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.
Wecker's first novel is a magical tale of two mythical creatures a golem from a Polish shtetl and a jinni from the Syrian Desert struggling to fit in among New York's turn-of-the-19th-century immigrants. The golem is brought to America by poor furniture maker Otto Rotfeld, who had her built from clay to be his wife, but he dies en route. Elderly Rabbi Avram Meyer, recognizing the tall and hardworking young woman's supernatural character, gives her a name Chava and a job in a bakery, but ponders whether to destroy her or let her fulfill a destiny that legend dictates includes mayhem and destruction. Meanwhile, a tinsmith, Boutros Arbeely, releases the jinni from a thousand-year-old flask and names him Ahmad. Proud, handsome Ahmad proves a gifted metalworker, seduces a Fifth Avenue heiress, and pines for his long-lost glass palace before meeting Chava, his unlikely soul mate. Wecker deftly layers their story over those of the people they encounter, including a Jewish baker and his wife, a Maronite coffee shop owner and his wife, a doctor turned ice cream vendor, and an apostate social worker. The ending dips into melodrama, but the human touches more than compensate in Wecker's spellbinding blend of fantasy and historical fiction.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A fascinating read
This was a very entertaining a d thought provocative book. Told in a way reminiscent of A 1001 Arabian Nights at points, while delving nin lesser known Jewish dark arts. The authors attention to detail is exquisite, if at times a bit winded.The characters are lively, colorful and captivating, and she manages to infuse such realism into her fantastical creatures that the reader cant help but cheer them on and wish fora happy ending to their severely thwarted lives.i hope this ois the first of many more great reads from this very talented writer.
This is amazing writing. I have never read a story quite like it. It brings so much in to question, beliefs, faiths, religions, etc. It takes place during a time when people had to go between Europe and America by ship and women didn't go around unchaperoned. It mostly has a realistic feel with a few big exceptions. The two main characters aren't human. There are also magicians and such. It's pretty low on the low fantasy scale, but at the same time those fantastical elements are what the whole plot is about.
A book for all times
This story could have been written for the world today or hundreds of years ago. The story of the Jinni and the Golem is a story of courage, of being different and overcoming obstacles in everday life. Truly one of my favorite books.