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The Golem and the Jinni (P.S.)by Helene Wecker
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A brilliant blend of historical fiction and literary fantasy set in late 19th-century New York. Beautifully written and carefully researched, this is the story of an unlikely friendship between two beings straight out of mythology: a jinni and a golem, who more or less accidentally immigrate to Manhattan.
Synopses & Reviews
In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings 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.
“Original and fresh….A fascinating blend of historical fiction and Jewish and Arab folklore.” Library Journal
“Wecker deftly layers their story over those of the people they encounter....[A] spellbinding blend of fantasy and historical fiction.” Publishers Weekly
“The premise is so fresh....A mystical and highly original stroll through the sidewalks of New York.” Booklist
“Wecker begins with a juicy premise…and great adventures ensue.…She writes skillfully, nicely evoking the layers of alienness that fall upon strangers in a strange land.” Kirkus Reviews
“Magical thinking comes alive in an enchanting allegory of the immigrant experience as two mythical beings try to make sense of themselves and the world around them.” Family Circle Magazine
“The Golem and the Jinni is recommended to adults who enjoy a good story and have a childlike sense of make-believe.” New York Journal of Books
“It sounds like the setup for a really strange joke: 'A golem and a jinni walk into a bakery in early 19th-century New York....' But this debut novel — part fantastic tale, part historical fiction — is one of the most highly anticipated fiction releases of the spring.” Christian Science Monitor
“[T]he most exciting fantasy debut since Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Helene Wecker must be a born writer; there is no other way to account for the quality of her prose, as phenomenal as any of the supernatural wonders she delivers in the glorious The Golem and the Jinni…” BookPage
“In the best instances, you don't merely read a book — you dive in and happily immerse yourself, forgetting the troubles of daily life for a while. The Golem and the Jinni offers just such an absorbing experience.” USA Today
“One of the joys of the novel is in watching two strangers develop a relationship that, while it's rooted in their shared magical natures, echoes the way ordinary humans can form bonds starting with a random encounter on a busy street.” Dallas Morning News
“An intoxicating fusion of fantasy and historical fiction…Wecker's storytelling skills dazzle….The book's magic, filtered through the old-time hustle and bustle of the Lower East Side, lingers long after the final page.” EW
“The tale is meant to be magical, and it is, but Wecker's real sleight of pen is recreating Manhattan as it was then. She has a historian's grasp of detail and a novelist's flair.” New York Daily News
“The author makes you care enough about the humanity of these magical spirits to not only see them through to the end but also to regret that you've reached the last page.” Patricia Cohen, New York Times
“Wecker maintains her novels originality as she orchestrates a satisfying and unpredictable ending. The Golem and the Jinni is a continuous delight — provocative, atmospheric, and superbly paced. ” Jane Ciabattari, Boston Globe
“History, magic and religion braid together in old New York's tenements….The interplay of loyalties and the struggle to assert reason over emotion keep the pages flipping.” New York Times Book Review
“An inventive and utterly lovely story….The golem and the jinni…are among my favorite fictional people I spent time with this spring…Wecker is a gifted new voice…I'm glad that her talents have been set free in this novel.” Chris Bohjalian, Washington Post
“Inventive, elegantly written and well-constructed….It's hard to believe this is a first novel. Clearly, otherworldly forces were involved…the story is so complex and intricately woven that it does not lend itself to summary. It would be like pulling threads from a finely crafted garment to describe the whole.” Minneapolis Star Tribune
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. 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 1899 New York, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their immigrant neighbors while masking their true selves. Meeting by chance, they 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.
About the Author
Helene Wecker received a BA from Carleton College in Minnesota and an MFA from Columbia University in New York. A Chicago-area native who has made her home in Minneapolis, Seattle, and New York, she now lives near San Francisco with her husband and daughter. The Golem and the Jinni is her first novel.
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