“An intoxicating fusion of fantasy and historical fiction. . . . Wecker’s storytelling skills dazzle." —Entertainment Weekly
A marvelous and absorbing debut novel about a chance meeting between two supernatural creatures in turn-of-the-century immigrant New York.
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay by a disgraced rabbi knowledgeable in the ways of dark Kabbalistic magic. She serves as the wife to a Polish merchant who dies at sea on the voyage to America. As the ship arrives in New York in 1899, Chava is unmoored and adrift until a rabbi on the Lower East Side recognizes her for the creature she is and takes her in.
Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert and trapped centuries ago in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard. Released by a Syrian tinsmith in a Manhattan shop, Ahmad appears in human form but is still not free. An iron band around his wrist binds him to the wizard and to the physical world.
Chava and Ahmad meet accidentally and become friends and soul mates despite their opposing natures. But when the golem’s violent nature overtakes her one evening, their bond is challenged. An even more powerful threat will emerge, however, and bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their very existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.
Compulsively readable, The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, in a wondrously inventive tale that is mesmerizing and unforgettable.
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.
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.
Interesting characters, plot moved along by mystical creatures brought into life in turn of century NYC.
A fantastic tale for a pandemic
I was hooked right from the beginning and couldn’t put this book down until the very last word. The characters were delightfully drawn and interwoven to make this fantasy seem all so real.