The Golem and the Jinni
June 27, 2021 1:05 PM - by Wecker, Helene - Subscribe

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 old man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Struggling to make their way in this strange new place, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their Jewish and Syrian neighbors while masking their true natures.

Surrounding them is a community of immigrants: the coffeehouse owner Maryam Faddoul; the solitary ice cream maker Saleh; the kind and caring Rabbi Meyer and his beleaguered nephew, Michael; the adventurous young socialite Sophia Winston; and the mysterious Joseph Schall.

Meeting by chance, the two creatures become unlikely friends until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring the Golem and the Jinni together again, threatening their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit (6 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It's been a few years since I read this, but, I remember liking it.
posted by oh yeah! at 2:50 PM on June 27, 2021

I'm sure there are spoilers in The Worst Way to Write a Book, Ever but it sure is worth hearing after reading TGatJ.
Back in 2014, we read Helene Wecker’s novel “The Golem and the Jinni,” and we liked it! Little did we know that she was listening to us… and that she would end up as an Incomparable panelist! Now a sequel, “The Hidden Palace: A Novel of the Golem and the Jinni” has arrived! In this special episode, Jason and Helene discuss the first novel, how real life can intrude on a publishing schedule, the value and temptation of research, and how “The Hidden Palace” ultimately came together.
And of course the page I linked links to the original Incomparable discussion, which is so spoilerful that it has a spoiler horn.
posted by kingless at 3:58 PM on June 27, 2021

For some reason I bounced on this when I started it a few years ago, but picked it up again last week and tore through it in days. Probably wasn't in the right headspace for it then, but really enjoyed it now.

Just started the sequel, which picks up the story that was hinted at in the Epilogue of this book.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 5:58 PM on June 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

I loved this book, and I'd forgotten there is a sequel!
The imaginary World's podcast did an episode on the book, and interviewed Helen Wecker. Worth listening to.
posted by Zumbador at 8:50 AM on June 28, 2021

Maybe it's because it was record-shattering heat here today, but I really wanted to hang with Saleh and have some ice cream.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:16 PM on June 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

It is hard to overstate how much I loved this book, but I am reluctant to start the sequel because I’ve read so many unsatisfying sequels lately. Perhaps I should just reread this instead?
Part of what I loved about it was how slow the story moved and the sense of place it held in my mind. I know I am enjoying a book when I realize how little time has passed in the story while chapters and chapters have gone by in the book itself.
posted by soelo at 8:06 AM on July 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

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