Friday, June 7, 2013

The Golem and the Jinni by Helen Wecker
First, you need to purchase this book in hardback just because it is incredibly beautiful; like books of old, it has gilt lettering and pages edged in dark blue...beautiful.  More importantly, buy this book because it is pretty awesome.  Hard to categorize, Wecker's first novel is part fantasy, part folklore, and part historical fiction, but mostly it is a story of a friendship between a Middle Eastern mythical creature, Ahmed the Jinni, and a Hebraic creature of mystical Judaism named Chava.  And yes, I do see the irony of this as we continuously see the current political situation in the Middle East.  Yet there is nothing political whatsoever in this book.  The story takes us to 1899 New York City, into the boroughs of the Jewish refugees as well as Little Syria.  We meet the coffee house hostess, the tinsmith who employs Ahmed, the society girl who loves him, and the 'crazy' ice cream maker who can 'see' Ahmed.  Once Chava and Ahmed meet, the story deepens as the two creatures who belong nowhere, forge a friendship.  This story is unpredictable, uniquely creative, and beautifully researched and written.  I suspect Helen Wecker will be writing some masterpieces in the years to come; this is a great beginning.

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