Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Golem and The Jinni by Helene Wecker

  • Release Date: April 23 , 2013
  • Pages: 496
  • Genre: Historical Urban Fantasy
  • Publisher: Harper
Hey, did you read Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus ?  Did you fall all over the magical aspects, charming side characters and nonlinear narrative ? Well, I did and if you need something to fill that hole I highly suggest The Golem and The Jinni. I grabbed this off my library's Overdrive after seeing so many people reading it on vacation and it was just my kind of book.

Drenched in Kabbalah and Arabic folklore Wecker's debut novel  is the unlikely story of two  creatures  believed to exist only  folklore finding their way in the immigrant  neighborhoods  of 1890's  New York. 

The  Golem is a newborn woman made of earth, who is quickly abandoned as soon as she is bought to  life. Hiding out in the Jewish populated Lower East Side, her only solace is trying to meet the wants of others without revealing herself first.

Once free to roam the deserts of Syria, the Jinni is now selfish-arrogant creature made of fire and smoke, who is bound to human flesh,and has inexplicable awoken in New York City's  Little Syria.

Unable to sleep, these two spend the night exploring the city where they will soon learn that their fates and those of the people in their neighborhoods  are more entwined than they could have every thought.

Both the Jinni and the Golem have very big personalities that lead to a complicated friendship between them. Wecker has a strong grasp for creating and forming characters, the cast of unique and charismatic side characters will have you feeling apart of these close knit neighborhoods.

This novel  gave me a lesson in U.S immigration. In school I  always learned about the Irish and Italians but this was the first time I'd read about immigrants from the Middle East coming to America and  the sort of exploitative exoticism they found here. Wecker shares a bit more in the back pages of how journalist romanticized  these immigrants.

I like to compare this book to The Night Circus because both books ask questions about nature vs. nurture and much like Cecelia and Marco's circumstances in The Night Circus, The Jinni and The Golem have  no free will in there situation either. They didn't choose to end up in New York City and  they didn't choose who they are.

The Golem and The Jinni is a charming quasi-urban fairytale. They city, characters come alive, I read the e-version of this book and the 500 pages flew by. I wanted to keep following the day to day know the intricacies and daily lives of the immigrants.

I think this is one of those books where it would be fun to go on a tour of New York City and visit some of the places the character go to; like the Washington Square Arch. The scene featuring the arch is a great scene and probably why it gets the cover.

In an interview with Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Wecker says  she is working on something she hopes to be a sequel.


  1. I've been wanting to read this since last year but now that Helene Wecker won the VCU First Novelist Award and will be here in November, I have a bit of a push to get to it soon. Glad to see you enjoyed it!

  2. Wow, I had no idea she won ! I will certainly be checking that event out.

  3. I did read (and really enjoyed) The Night Circus. And I actually purchased an ebook copy of The Golem and the Jinni a while ago, but haven't read it yet. Clearly I need to fix that soon! I haven't seen anyone else make the comparisons between the two, but you doing so makes me excited. Now I feel like I can better gauge when to give it a try.
    And I love the idea that it's actually somewhat informative of historical events. Always a plus.
    Wonderful review! I'm bumping this up on my tbr list. :)

  4. I'm surprised their aren't more comparisons. This novel is much more historically informative and placed than the The Night Circus, but has many of the same themes


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