The Golem and the Jinni (Paperback)
Harper Perennial, 9780062110848, 512pp.
Publication Date: December 31, 2013
May 2013 Indie Next List
— Nick Petrulakis, Books Inc., Alameda, CA
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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.
Praise For The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel…
“Wecker deftly layers their story over those of the people they encounter...[A] spellbinding blend of fantasy and historical fiction.”
“The premise is so fresh...A mystical and highly original stroll through the sidewalks of New York.”
“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.”
“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.”
“THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI is recommended to adults who enjoy a good story and have a childlike sense of make-believe.”
“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.”
“…the most exciting fantasy debut since Susanna Clarke’s JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORELL. 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…”
“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. ”
“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.”
“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 Grade: A
“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.”
“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.”
“From its eerie opening pages to its shattering conclusion, The Golem and the Jinni is an astonishing debut novel that sweeps us into a gaslit alternate reality rich enough to get lost in.”
“With a delightful blend of the prosaic and the fanciful, The Golem and the Jinni explores what it means to be human as Chava and Ahmad struggle to live and find love while overcoming the powerful adversary who threatens to destroy them.”
“A dazzling debut…You’ll be hooked by the vivid interplay of historical fiction, magical fable, and philosophical musing and the colorful supporting cast…Read it in one long, guilt-free gulp (it’s serious literature!).”
“Wecker maintains her novel’s originality as she orchestrates a satisfying and unpredictable ending. The Golem and the Jinni is a continuous delight — provocative, atmospheric, and superbly paced. ”
“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.”
“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.”
“Masterful…utterly unique and enchanting…Very few debut novels exhibit the charm, assurance, emotional depth and bravura fabulation which the lucky reader will discover in The Golem and the Jinni.”
“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.”
“A beautifully written historical novel with the added spice of the supernatural to make it unputdownable…The novel comes alive with its vivid portrayal of the humor, warmth, and struggle of life in the everyday Lower East Side. The book’s reality is just as captivating as its fantasy.”
“Her story is so inventive, so elegantly written, so well-constructed, it is hard to believe that it is her first novel…The books is so good that I wonder if there was some other-worldly power involved in its creation.”