Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Golem and the Jinni by Helen Weker

What a scrumptious book! The Golem and the Jinni is a wonderful mix of fantasy, magic, history, romance, friendship and folklore. It also brings up some philosophical issues of various faiths, not hitting the reader in the face with "truisms", but leading along the path of examination and discovery.

This debut novel (which supposedly took 7 years in the making) is the story of Chava, a Golem, whose master died aboard a ship from Europe to New York, and Ahmad, a Jinni enslaved by a wizard centuries ago, released from his tin bottle prison in the Little Syria section of New York City.  Though New York of 1899 is big and bustling, it is inevitable that these two supernatural creatures, one forged of clay to serve the whim of a now dead master, the other a spirit of the desert winds and fire, bound to a master that he cannot remember, find each other.

The small details of this story delighted me. I read somewhere that the author incorporated the stories of her family to flesh out the tale. And in her writing, I felt that I was sometimes witnessing the world my grandmother told my mother about (at least relating to Chava. My experience with Arab-Americans came much later in life, in another city entirely.)

A friend recommended this book to me saying, "Just read it. I can't explain it. Just read it."  She was right.

For more plot details,etc, check out the New York Times review. I couldn't say it any better.

PS Thank you, Mary.

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