Today’s tour is for a debut novel full of hope, wonder, and friendship…
About Helene Wecker:
Helene Wecker received a B.A. from Carleton College in Minnesota and an M.F.A. from Columbia University in New York. A Chicago-area native who’s 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.
About The Golem and the Jinni:
Helene Wecker’s dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York. 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.
Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni is a mesmerizing tale, told in a beautifully spare voice, of two lost souls who find each other in a crazy new world, and become friends.
Chava is a newly-awakened golem who finds kindness from an old rabbi when she arrives in New York City. Ahmad is a jinn who’s shocked by the passage of time elapsed since he was trapped in his flask. One is timid and shy, afraid of drowning in others’ wants and needs. The other is capricious and selfish, doing as he wishes regardless of possible repercussions.
Somehow both learn to function in this strange world, making friends and finding jobs. But as they’re pulled into the world at large, they’re also exposed to danger – the danger of allowing their true selves to emerge, a more frightening thought for Chava than for Ahmad…
I loved this story of improbable friendship, and I thoroughly enjoyed Wecker’s weaving of Ahmad’s past with his current day. Chava is intense, a quick study at repetitive tasks, whose compassion may be a part of her being but is refreshing nonetheless. And Ahmad is as fiery as his nature dictates, though he eventually learns what it means to care for – and about – others. The supporting cast are well-defined, and I appreciated the personalities Wecker imbued them with. About the only thing I can say that’s possibly negative is that you’ll have to put aside quite a few hours for this almost-500-page novel. But I promise you won’t regret the time spent with these characters, or with the story. Go pick this up!
drey’s rating: Excellent!
Have you read The Golem and the Jinni? What did you think? And if you haven’t, read on to win your own copy!
Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours, I have one copy of The Golem and the Jinni for you. This one’s open to US & Canada residents. To enter, fill out the form below before May 9th. Good luck!