Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Golem & The Jinni by Helene Wecker

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Helene Wecker's debut, The Golem & The Jinni!

This has been one of the most talked about books of the season! In fact, it was on my personal wishlist for what seemed like ages when the opportunity to participate in the tour came my way. It didn't take much to pique my interest, the title alone did it for me. The promise of a book based in Jewish and Syrian folklore drew me in without pause.

It's 1899 when the Golem and the Jinni make their way to the New World. 

Chava was commissioned to be the wife of a merchant immigrating to New York from Konin. Though he was a man of means, he was not an easy man to get along with. Nonetheless, he found he was lonely and in want of a companion. His solution was a golem. Normally meant to be a workhorse and protector, this man asked that his golem be curious and intelligent, but also proper. Unfortunately, after waking the golem the man passed away. But the golem was lucky enough to cross paths with someone who could help. He named her Chava and under his tutelage began to make a life for herself.  

The Jinni's introduction to New York was much different. He'd spent centuries trapped inside a flask until being awakened by a metalsmith. The Jinni, stuck in human form, had no memory of how he became ensnared in the container but the metalsmith was willing to help, taking the Jinni under his wing as his apprentice and introducing him to the community. 

When the Jinni and the Golem finally cross paths, they instantly see each other for what they really are. Their shared bond becomes a wary friendship as they each make their way in a world that is so vastly foreign to them both. 

There have been GLOWING reviews in addition to this gorgeous trailer:

Fortunately, and take it from me, Wecker's debut does live up to expectations!

The Golem & The Jinni is so many things! It's a story steeped in folklore but it's also a story of immigration and historic New York. It's also a story of friendships and relationships. And while the Golem and the Jinni are the most magical characters, they're not the only focus of the story. Both of them have a number of additional characters who gravitate around them. For Chava, there's Rabbi Meyer and his nephew, Michael; her creator; and the people at the bakery where she works. For the Jinni, there's Arbeely, the smith; Maryam Faddoul, the woman whose family owned the flask; and Mahmoud Saleh, an ice cream maker cursed with a strange ability; and many others.

The overall story is an intricate one with connections both large and subtle and backstories and histories that become more clear as the book progresses. And like any good fairy or folk tale, Helene Wecker's story uses the fantastic to tell a story that is oh, so very common at heart: the struggle to be human.

Rating: 5/5

To see other stops on the tour, check out the official tour page here.

For more on Helene Wecker, you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook.


Jennifer | Book Den said...

Awesome. I'm so glad to hear it lives up to the expectations. I hope to get to this one very soon!

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

I'm so glad to know that this book lives up to all the hype! Now I'm REALLY excited to read it!

Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

Man of la Book said...

I think that the themes of friendship and community especially in 1899 before the Internet were very prominent in this book. Great review, I'm on the tour as well: http://manoflabook.com/wp/?p=8188