Author: Helene Wecker--- who was raised Jewish, married to an Syrian-American man. The book combines elements from these two traditions.
Published: Harper Publishing, 2013; Blackstone Audio, 2014.
Summary: Set in New York City in 1899 where two unlikely creatures, a golem and a jinni become friends as they try to live among the human immigrants of the city. It blends mythologies from both Jewish and Arab cultures. The golem was created to be her master's wife, but he dies aboard the ship before it arrives in New York, leaving the golem alone. The jinni is trapped inside a copper flask for a thousand years before being released by a tinsmith in Manhattan's Little Syria. They are both named by their human hosts. The golem is named Chava by a kind rabbi who befriends her. The jinni is named Ahmed by the tinsmith, who takes him on as as an apprentice. Neither Chava nor Ahmed need to sleep so they end up discovering each other as they wander the streets of New York in the night.
The What? Golems are creatures made from clay. Golems are mentioned in the Bible (Psalms 139:16) and refer to an unformed bodies. The most famous golem in literature was created by a rabbi, was named Josef, could make himself invisible, and could summon the dead. A jinni is a supernatural creature from Islamic mythology. We usually spell it genie. Neither creature was aware of the existence of the other creature until they met each other.
Awards: Winner of the Mythopoeic Award for works in fantasy and mythology; Nominated for a Nebula Award for excellent fantasy/science fiction books; Nominated for Goodreads Choice Awards for Fantasy and for Debut Author.
What reviewers had to say about the book and author:
- Wecker "writes skillfully, nicely evoking the layers of alienness that fall upon strangers in a strange land."-Kirkus Reviews
- "And this impressive first novel manages to combine the narrative magic of “The Arabian Nights” with the kind of emotional depth, philosophical seriousness and good, old-fashioned storytelling found in the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer."---Patricia Cohen, New York Times
- Wecker has written a novel of ideas, touching on issues from faith to free will, that’s also as entertaining as the fantasies she herself enjoys reading.---Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
My review: I loved this book. It delighted me on so many levels. When I was a young girl I was completely captivated by the 101 Arabian Nights stories. This book, with its mythology and supernatural creatures, reminded me so much of those stories. I recommend it anyone who enjoys a touch of magic in their reading selections.
30 books Summer Reading Challenge
21 / 30 books. 70% done!