The Golem and the Jinni
By Helene Wecker
Complimentary copy by Harper Collins
Wow!!! I am blown away by this amazing novel. I can't believe this her debut!!!!
The Golem and the Jinni, is one post I want to do justice. This is the best book I have read in years. I said that last year about Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. Truly after you read the post I hope you run out and buy it. Any book that is unique and different in its storytelling, has won me over from the start.
This unique story is so hard to put in word. I had to think in days how to put my thoughts together. Ms. Wecker has such a imagination. I wondered how come we have not heard from her before. Surely, this book is not a debut. It turns out it is.
I am still thinking about this amazing book. How to post, and write about it after a week. I am still contemplating. I have been afraid to post on my book blogs. That is how good it is. I even posted on Amazon, which I don't usually do. But, I want the world to know about this book.
The Golem and the Jenni is wonderful, unique, magical, enchanting, and Jewish story telling at it's best. There are books that give you character study, and books that transport you. But, The Golem and the Jenni gives you a wonderful ride, and spell bounding at every turn. You wanted to know what happens next. You can't keep turning the pages fast enough. It keeps you up all hours of the night, and keeps the night oil burning.
I am Jewish, but never read the stories of the old country, Yiddishkeit. This is what it reminded me of, the old story telling. Like the stories we used to be read, and hear as as story book bed time stories. Storytelling not narrative written down, but oral story telling at a campfire.
The book is part Jewish folklore, Romance, Part historical fiction, magical realism, mysticm- Jewish, and Arab, and of course fantasy. The author takes us on a tour of turn of the century New York City, of the Jewish, Lower East Side, and Old Syria. Almost like a carpet ride. Because the Jinni is able to fly so he takes us above the tenement homes, but on the roof to see below. Which a unique experience.
This is the kind of book, that is so lush in description, and multi layered characters. This is the kind of book that I think would be hard to pull apart and critique because the storytelling is so awesome. The author sometimes gets carried away with description that makes the story drag a bit. But, you doesn't distract from the story because of the rich, and lush story telling.
There is so much to talk about in this novel, to name a few Jewish, and Syrian immigration, Tenement housing, living conditions, immigration policies, Lower East Side living, family, storytelling, and free will.
My recommendation before you read the book, is to do research and find out what a golem is. Then do research on the Genie.
The story takes place in Danzig, Poland. Otto Rotfeld is not a handsome man, and he is a outsider and doesn't trust others. He decides he wants a wife, but not a ordinary wife. He wants a wife of his own making, and then he seeks out the Kabbalist, Schaalman. He asks him to make of wife of his own desires. While on the way to America on the ship Mr. Rotfeld brings her to life. But, he ultimately dies with a burst appendix. What is she to do without a master. She doesn't have free will, she is born to follow orders of her master. She is like a new born child with new experiences. She doesn't know what to do or act. When she gets off the ship she starts wandering. She encounters a Rabbi that takes her in. He realizes she is not a ordinary woman, but a Golem, her name we find out is Chava, which means life.
Then not faraway in Little Syria, a Arab immigrant community called Little Syria lives a tinsmith named Abeely. He is brought a copper flask needing repair. While attempting to fix it, something happens, a Genie pops out. He is naked, he is trapped as a shape of a human being. He is bound by irons on his wrists.
In the mist of this is Schaalman, he tries to find his creation. Has he come to destroy her? Or to make him his master? You will just have to read the book to find out. I am telling you it is worth the read.
Here is a few quotes I loved that gives the uniqueness of the book. "Schaalman could control the Jenni how ever he wished, and the golem was his own creature to destroy. He held their lives in his hands. He might use them each against the other, or seal the Jenni in the flask and turn the Golem into dust, servitude, and else death.". If you would like more reviews of what other people think, I am sure if you do a google search you will find positive reviews as well.
Our Jewish community in Myrtle Beach is selecting our first community read book. The Golem and the Jenni happens to be one of them. I don't think anything else will compare. With the others on the nominating committee, I have heard everyone's take. Everyone agrees, The Golem and the Jenni.
I would like to thank Heather for the complimentary copy.