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Posted October 5, 2017 by Allie Burke in Books
 
 

REVIEW: The Golem and The Djinni by Helene Wecker


The Golem and the Djinni
Helene Wecker
Magic Realism
Blue Door, 13 March 2014
Paperback, 656 pages

This is one of the most gorgeous books I’ve read in a long while. Set in New York in 1899, it is the tale of Chava, a golem who has no master, and Ahmad, a djinni with no idea of how he came to be in human form. It is a gorgeous fusion of Jewish folklore and Middle Eastern myth, which I believe maintains the integrity of each culture brilliantly.

Chava was a delight to read, her experience of humanity through understanding its never-relenting desires was really fascinating to read, and made one question one’s own material wants. Would I really like someone else knowing what I wanted at all times? Probably not. Is it necessary to want so much? Well, no, not really.

Ahmad also was wonderful, and probably my favourite character. I liked his obstinacy and his confusion at how humanity works. His friendship with Chava was refreshingly platonic, but deeply moving. I am always a fan of books about best friends and platonic adoration.

Each of them was a fascinating foil to human behaviour, whilst encapsulating everything it means to be human.

The construction of The Golem and The Djinni was marvellously mastered – many threads wove together an almost history-like story, the description wonderful, the over-arching development satisfying and the characters were gorgeously done: from the main characters to those more secondary individuals who really make a book believable.

It was gripping, but without taking over my life. I wanted to know all of the threads of stories within The Golem and the Djinni equally – there was no frustration at having to read a chapter on one character whilst wanting to read about another. But I could put it down and deal with whatever I needed to do. There was a great balance, and an amazing scope. We see people from cultures and times completely different to each other, and no one seemed particularly false.

A triumph, perhaps one of my new favourite books, and at its core a narrative on humanity and love, understood through outsiders looking in.

Scorna’s TBR

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Allison “Allie” Burke is a published novelist and editor who enjoys Weird Things like reading six YA novels in a day, drinking coffee at all the wrong times, and rambling on about Things No One Has Ever Heard Of to people who are not really listening. She loves vampires – but only on TV, not in books (except that one time) – and expresses herself using the F-word more in a day than is acceptable in any human being’s lifetime. She often Capitalizes Things That Are Not Technically Supposed To Be Capitalized, like that one girl from that one book. Her favorite book is The Fault In Our Stars, and she is terrified of Good Books Being Turned Into Movies That Suck.