The Golem and the Jinni was a delight from start to finish. Page after page I was mesmerized by the magic unfolding before my eyes. I could see the sights. I could smell the sights. As any good author knows, though, you don’t want to give readers all the details. Helene Wecker provided plenty of breathtaking details, but she left just enough to fuel the reader’s vivid imagination.
The two main characters, Chava and Ahmad, are fabled creatures with ties to both Jewish and Arab cultures. They move through life in an attempt to blend in with the late 19th century New York City lifestyle. Numerous flashbacks, especially with Ahmad, show his true jinni nature and how he survived in past centuries. The cultural traditions and mishmash of immigrants in the city come to life on the page, and each new introduction is entirely believable.
I found myself caught up in the sense of longing both Chava and Ahmad have, in their own ways, for home, friends, and love. Even the people they meet and the way these characters unintentionally alter lives is handled in a culturally respectful yet startling way. As tensions built, I was transported right to the scene, witnessing first hand the horrors and delights as they unfolded.
Reading this novel will leave you eager for more.