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The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel Hardcover – April 23, 2013
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, April 2013: Imaginative and meticulously researched, this enchanting debut novel from Helene Wecker is, in reality, an historical fiction. Set primarily in turn-of-the-century Manhattan, it deliberately details the immigrant experience--the wonders and hardships of being in a new country and the discoveries, triumphs, and failures that follow--while bringing the city itself to life with such passion that New York of yore seems like a magical land. Beyond reality, however, The Golem and the Jinni, as the title implies, is also a fantastic work of fantasy. The Golem is an insatiably curious clay "woman" that was created to seem human while serving only her husband; the Jinni is a magical "man" whose fascination with mortals has left him nearly stripped of his own nature and forced to live as one. These mythical characters from otherwise clashing cultures not only coexist, but come to rely upon one another in order to exist at all. In turn, their story finds us not only rooting for them to find peace and happiness, but gaining a better understanding of our own human nature in the process. --Robin A. Rothman
First novelist Wecker has blended not only genres but also elements of Jewish and Arab folklore and mythology in this intriguing historical fantasy. What happens when a golem, a Polish woman made of clay, recently marooned in late-nineteenth-century New York, joins forces with jinni, a creature made of fire, accidently released by a Syrian tinsmith in lower Manhattan? The premise is so fresh that it is anyone’s guess, and Wecker does not disappoint as she keeps the surprises coming in this unusual story of the intersection of two magical beings and their joint impact on their parochial immigrant communities. While stolid Chava and fiery Ahmed struggle to cope with their individual challenges and desires, they must together overcome philosophical, spiritual, and physical hurdles to ward off an insidious demonic threat. A mystical and highly original stroll through the sidewalks of New York. --Margaret Flanagan
Top customer reviews
Initially I hesitated to get involved in this book, thinking, "Oh no, another golem story." My expectation was of a scary, out-of-control golem. This is so much more than that. It's long, but so worth it. By the time I got to the end, I didn't want the story to be over.
In the story "The Golem and the Jinni" these two characters meet up in the late 1800's New York. Perhaps the only place they could meet up as the golem is a European Jewish thing and the Jinni is an Arabian, Middle eatern thing. Chava our female golem was created by a rogue kabbalist named Yehudah Shallman at the express request of Mr. Rotfeld. Mr. Rotfeld wanted her to be endowed with certain characteristics so she could become his ideal wife. Of course Golems cannot have children. Mr. Rotfeld packs her in a box and ships her to America. He is warmed not to wake her up before arriving to America. Of course he does not heed this advice and end up dying on the way over.
Boutros Arbeely lives in "Little Syria" on Washington Street. Coffee shop owner Marian Fadal gives him a bronze vase to fix at his metal smith shop. When he rubs it out pop "Ahmad" the Jinni. Arbeely takes him in and makes him partner as they share the work of metal smithing. No one can really know that Ahmad is a Jinni so they say he is a Bedouin from Syria. Ahmad is prone to take long walks at night and meet up with various kinds of people. The golem is also taken to nighttime strolls.
After Avraham Meyer the Rabbi who takes her in passes away the two mythical people meet up on a weekly basis to take walks in the city and share their various secrets and challenges. The friendship can be rocky at times with many ups and downs. The plot is spiced up with a marriage to Michael ,Avrahams nephew. Ice Cream Saleh a former doctor in Syria is able to see Ahmad for who he truly is.
As the relationship progresses the two find out they have a common foe who they must defeat, the Wizard who imprisoned the Jinn in the first place. Yehuda Shallman comes to America for unsavory purposes regarding the golem and takes up in Michaels Hospice. Things edge towards a final showdown with the evil wizard.
Great piece of work for a new author. The book gives great insight into the lifestyle of new immigrants coming to new York during the 1890's. Life was not easy and the author gives us a very vivid picture. The book is also about relationship and individuals from different communities learning to get along with common challenges and how communities used certain strategies to both stick together and cope with the challenge of living in a new land.
Yet what makes it amateurish is that from the get go it is not obvious what the story's objective is .I saw a relationship developing and two very rare individuals learning to adjust but what was the point. It does not become clear until later. Still it was an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading the author's future works.