The Golem and the Jinni is a chance meeting between mythical beings that 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.
It is a beautiful love letter to New York at the turn of the century, and of the people of three faiths whose lives were intermingling there–and the monsters of their faiths set loose on the streets.
It’s a beautiful story of redemption, for monsters and men. I don’t think that I can write as lyrically as Helene Wicker, but I consider this a model of folklore transformed for the modern world, and it has certainly influenced my work. If you love history, theology, and fairy tales, you will love this book.