Indie Pick for May Golem and The Jinni by Helene Wecker

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                              

Helene Wecker


****Watch videos of Helene Wecker w/ Barbara Hoffert of Library Journal talking about her new book here:

“Can’t we all just get along? Perhaps yes, if we’re supernatural beings from one side or another of the Jewish-Arab divide.  In her debut novel, Wecker begins with a juicy premise: At the dawn of the 20th century, the shtetls of Europe and half of “Greater Syria” are emptying out, their residents bound for New York or Chicago or Detroit.  . . . .The Golem.. . lands in Manhattan with less destructive force than Godzilla hit Tokyo, but even so, she cuts a strange figure. So does Ahmad, another slave bottled up—literally—and shipped across the water to a New York slum called Little Syria, where a lucky Lebanese tinsmith named Boutros Arbeely rubs a magic flask in just the right way and—shazam!—the djinni (genie) appears. . .. . Naturally, their paths cross, the most unnatural of the unnaturalized citizens of Lower Manhattan—and great adventures ensue, . . . .Wecker takes the premise and runs with it, and  . . . she writes skillfully, nicely evoking the layers of alienness that fall upon strangers in a strange land. Two lessons: Don’t discount a woman just because she’s made of clay, and consider your wishes carefully should you find that magic lamp.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Wecker’s first novel is a magical tale of two mythical creatures – a golem from a Polish shtetl and a jinni from the Syrian Desert – struggling to fit in among New York’s turn-of-the-century immigrants. . .  [A] spellbinding blend of fantasy and historical fiction.”
Publishers Weekly, *Boxed Review*

“The premise is so fresh  . . . . and Wecker does not disappoint as she keeps the surprises coming in this unusual story of the intersection of two magical beings and their joint impact on their parochial immigrant communities.  . . . . A mystical and highly original stroll through the sidewalks of New York.”

“Full of quirky characters and philosophical and religious musings, this fascinating blend of historical fiction and Jewish and Arab folklore excels when it comes to its gorgeous descriptions and the intriguing flashbacks to the jinni’s earlier life  . . . this original and fresh story will attract fans of historical fantasy or folktales.”
Library Journal

An immigrant tale that combines elements of Jewish and Arab folk mythology, Helene Wecker’s sparkling debut novel THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI (Harper/HarperCollins Publishers; $27.99; Hardcover; ISBN 13: 9780062110831; on sale: April 23, 2013/ May 2013) tells the story of two supernatural creatures who arrive separately in New York in 1899. The woman is a golem created out of clay in Poland by an aged dabbler in the dark Kabbalistic arts to be the wife of a man who then dies at sea, leaving her unmoored and adrift as the ship comes into New York harbor; the man is a
Jinni, a being of fire, who is trapped by a Bedouin wizard in a copper flask and released accidentally by a Syrian tinsmith in Lower Manhattan.
The narrative traces their respective journeys, as they explore the strange human city. Chava, as a kindly old rabbi names her, is beset by human desires and wishes, which she can feel tugging at her; Ahmad, christened by the tinsmith who makes him his apprentice, is aggravated by human dullness. But they both work to make at least a temporary place for themselves in this new world, and develop tentative relationships with the people in their neighborhoods.
In an exciting and fast-paced narrative of adventure and adversity, the Golem and the Jinni finally meet: it is not exactly a romance, and at first they are hostile and suspicious, but they end up forming a strong bond, since only they can recognize each other for what they truly are. Surrounding them, and crucial to their story, is a colorful cast of supporting characters: the café owner Maryam Faddoul; the solitary ice cream maker Saleh; Rabbi Meyer’s beleaguered nephew Michael, whose Sheltering House receives newly arrived Jewish immigrants; the young Fifth Avenue socialite Sophia Winston; and the mysterious Yehudah Schaalman, with his spells and esoteric wisdom.
A marvelous and compulsively readable work of fiction, THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI is a fresh combination of vivid historical novel and magical fable. With threads from Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, it belongs in a tradition of contemporary writing that draw on folk materials, such as Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated, Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love, Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Tea Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife, and Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus.  The magic depicted in THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI will surprise and delight readers with characters that one will not soon forget.


“Set against the vivid backdrop of New York City’s immigrant neighborhoods in the late 19th century, Helene Wecker’s tale of two fabled creatures has the intimate feel of a story handed down from generation to generation. With a delightful blend of the prosaic and the fanciful, The Golem and the Jinni explores what it means to be human as Chava and Ahmad struggle to live and find love while overcoming the powerful adversary who threatens to destroy them.”
   — Deborah Harkness, author of A Discovery of Witches
“From its eerie opening pages to its shattering conclusion, The Golem and the Jinni is an astonishing debut novel that sweeps us into a gas lit alternate reality rich enough to get lost in – a vision of fin de siècle 19th century New York as a city that had all the world’s immigrants descending on it, including supernatural ones.  In this world where crossing a street or rounding the corner shoots you halfway around the globe – where whole nations are packed into the space of a few blocks, their folk traditions crammed in amongst the tenements and workshops – it seems weirdly plausible that two culture’s mythical creatures could meet, on the Bowery, and fall in love.  It is Helene Wecker’s triumph that these supernatural beings – one made of fire, the other of clay – seem as real and as poignant in their struggles for love and belonging as any of their fellow human immigrants, until together they face a villain of truly monstrous proportions.”
Tom Reiss, author of The Orientalist and The Black Count

Helene Wecker is Jewish, and her husband’s family is Syrian, giving her a unique perspective on these two culture’s mystical traditions and the immigrant experiences of both groups. Her fiction has appeared in the online magazine Joyland, and she has read from her stories at the KGB Bar in Manhattan and the Barbershop Reading Series in San Francisco. She received a B.A. from Carleton College in Minnesota and an M.F.A. from Columbia University in New York. A Chicago-area native who’s made her home in Minneapolis, Seattle, and New York, she now lives near San Francisco, CA with her husband and daughter. THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI is her first novel.  *For more on Helene Wecker and her writing visit: 

By Helene Wecker
Harper/HarperCollins Publishers
$26.99/$28.99 Can.; Hardcover; 486 pages
ISBN 13: 9780062110831
On-sale: April 23, 2013 – A May 2013 Publication

*Also available in these fine formats:
E-book/Harper E-books: ISBN 13: 9780062110855
Large Print/HarperLuxe, ISBN 13: 9780062253828
Digital Audio Book/Harper Audio: ISBN 13: 9780062263056

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