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The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel Hardcover – April 23, 2013
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You will be shocked to hear that the novel is, in fact, about a golem and a jinni. For those who are unaware, a golem is a figure of Jewish myth, an automaton made of earth or clay, brought to life to do the bidding of another. A jinni (or genie) is a figure of Arab myth, a magical creature of fire. So, before we even get into plot details, look at that fascinating set-up! Jewish/Arab. Earth/fire. Just hearing the premise, I anticipated some sort of culture clash to be central to the tale. And while the story does primarily unfold amongst the Jewish and Syrian immigrant populations of late 19th century New York, it is not a parable of Mid-East conflict. This was merely the first of many instances when Ms. Wecker defied expectations and convention, keeping me guessing in what direction her tale would evolve again and again.
Talk about defying convention--the titular golem is a woman, and self-aware. She was originally created (with a laundry list of attributes that included intelligence, curiosity, and propriety) to be a rich merchant's wife. He, alas, died en route to America, shortly after bringing her to life. She arrived at Ellis Island without a master or a plan. The jinni, on the other hand, WAS freed from ia thousand-year mprisonment in a flask--but don't expect him to start granting wishes any time soon.
This is the story of two creatures in turn of the century New York who are both Old Worldly and otherworldly.Read more ›
4/3/13 The ending of the book is completely satisfying, just like the rest of the book. Wecker left the door ajar that there could be a follow-up with these characters if the book is as wildly successful as I hope and believe the book could/ will be.
I enjoyed all the time that it took for the characters to meet, because it let me spend more time with the characters getting to know them as individuals. Chava is convinced she is a monster. I disagree; she is a good woman. Ahmad looks human, but he doesn't think that way, nor does he make the effort that Chava does to blend in.
It made me happy to spend so much time on the Lower East Side and Little Syria. The first place I thought I knew from fiction and movies, but I didn't know about the dancing palaces there. Little Syria is an insular place. I liked how the center of it seemed to be Maryam's café. I wonder if there is something magical about Maryam's ability to calm and soothe the patrons of her café? Ahmad works as a tinsmith and makes a spectacular topical map of Syria in the lobby of an apartment house. I would dearly love to see this, because the way Wecker described it sounds like it must be real.
I consider myself very, very fortunate to have had the opportunity to have read such a magical book.Read more ›
Wecker exposes each story in parallel, bouncing back and forth between their respective histories and present; exploring their childlike naivete as they're exposed to more and more of modern life in a massive city.
Each has their own 'sponsor', the Golem is discovered by an aging retired rabbi, the Jinni by an introverted metalworker. Wecker does a terrific job teasing out each personality while revealing the cultural center that resides at each of their existences.
Wecker's narrative is very adult, but often reads like a childhood fable in structure. This book should appeal to any fan of literate historical fiction, but doesn't mind a bit of the fantastical. There are no medieval dragons and wizards, but more of a delightful bit of cultural magic.
Wecker's novel combines the magical realm in which golems and jinnis exist with the turn of the century world of New York City with its enclaves of tenements and immigrants. The Jinni, a magical being of fire, finds Chava, a Jewish creature made of mud, and the adventure begins. Wecker explores what it is to be human through describing the interactions of these mythical creatures with New York citizens. After both the Jinni and the golem have been plunged into a strange new world, they attempt to find a purpose and the resultant happiness. The jinni becomes a tinsmith and the golem bakes bread and both create mayhem as they explore the world around them. Wecker throws a villain into the mix, one who is determined to control and use the creatures for his own purposes and now we have the makings of a great, creative story.
Wecker's prose flows expertly and transports the reader into another realm of existence. The story is believable despite the book's fantastical elements. It is filled with well developed characters who bring the story to life and momentarily take us away from our mundane existence. Take respite from the world you know and read The Golem and the Jinni.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great read, great writing, great story with some history woven in. Need to read Wecker's other book.Published 12 hours ago by Stephen Phillips
Fabulous combination of historical fiction and ethnic mythology. I loved it!Published 4 days ago by Vina Isaac
Intriguing story well woven together, pieces falling into place at the right time to make a fun and enjoyable read.Published 4 days ago by tsipes
The narration is extraordinary. The story's many characters come to life with their own voice in this edition through the masterful work of this narrator. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Lisa K.