Friday, April 18, 2014

The Golem and The Jinni


Today’s post is on The Golem and The Jinni by Helene Wecker. It is 484 pages long and is published by HarperCollins. The is cover is a deep blue with Central Park in winter, the title in gold with the pages painted the same deep blue. The intended reader is someone who likes magical realism, literary fiction, or unusual fantasy. There is some language, talk of sex, and violence in this book. Because of the way the book is written adults would get the most enjoyment out of this novel. The story is told in third person close moving from character as the needed. There Be Spoilers Ahead.
From the back of the book- Helene Wecker’s dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York City. 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 Faffoul, a pillar of wisdom and support for her Syrian neighbors; the solitary ice cream maker Saleh, a damaged man cured 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 ambitious 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 Jinni together again, threatening their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.
Review- This is a wonderful book. It is beautifully written, the magical realism is very well done, and it is literary without being pretentious. I normally did not like literary fiction. I find it pretentious and boring. But not with Wecker. This is story is interesting. The characters are moving pieces of art. Chava and Ahmad do not really change much over the course of the story but that did not annoy me. I felt that they were two calm places in the storm of the humanity that was all around them. Because of what they are they do not change quickly. They slowly grow as they move together and with the humans who interact most with them. In all this is a very simple story. A Golem and a Jinni find each other in the sea of humanity and learn to be friends in spite of how different they are. That is the heart of their interactions. How different Chava and Ahmad are from each other. Chava is very much like the earth she is made from and Ahmad is the same. I highly recommend this book.
I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for this book and I borrowed it from my local library.