Indie Next ListMay 2013
I think I missed the deadline for May, but I'm a strong believer in better late than never. Sorry!!! Helene Wecker’s debut novel, The Golem and the Jinni, takes a magical flight back to turn of the century New York. The Golem is a woman cast from clay – the Jinni springs from fire. Both are old world denizens in a very new world, a world and a time exquisitely rendered by Wecker. And while the most obvious elements of the novel are fantastical, with much of its magic being dark, at its heart The Golem and the Jinni brims emotionally over with love and loss, with longing and what it means to belong – or not. Wecker is part novelist, part alchemist – leaving the reader to wonder how she gave such vibrant life to her characters. --Nick Petrulakis Manager, Books Inc., Alameda -- Nick Petrulakis, Books Inc., Alameda, CA
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark kabbalistic magic. When her master dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York Harbor. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.
Struggling to make their way in this strange new place, the golem and the jinni try to fit in with their neighbors while masking their true natures. Surrounding them is a community of immigrants: the coffeehouse owner Maryam Faddoul, a pillar of wisdom and support for her Syrian neighbors; the solitary ice-cream maker Saleh, a damaged man cursed by tragedy; the kind and caring Rabbi Meyer and his beleaguered nephew, Michael, whose Sheltering House receives newly arrived Jewish men; the adventurous young socialite Sophia Winston; and the enigmatic Joseph Schall, a dangerous man driven by ferocious ambition and esoteric wisdom.
Meeting by chance, the two creatures become unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures, until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful menace will soon bring the golem and the jinni together again, threatening their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.
Marvelous and compulsively readable, "The Golem and the Jinni" weaves strands of folk mythology, historical fiction, and magical fable into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.