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by Helene Wecker


Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062110848
Publisher:
P.S.
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
512
Sales rank:
29,284
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.50(d)

Overview

 

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.

Struggling to make their way in 1899 New York, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their immigrant neighbors while masking their true selves. Meeting by chance, they become unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures, until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful menace will soon bring the Golem and the Jinni together again, threatening their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

Marvelous and compulsively readable, The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of folk mythology, historical fiction, and magical fable into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

 

Editorial Reviews

Tom Reiss
“From its eerie opening pages to its shattering conclusion, The Golem and the Jinni is an astonishing debut novel that sweeps us into a gaslit alternate reality rich enough to get lost in.”

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    Read an Excerpt

     

     

    The Golem and the Jinni


    By Helene Wecker

    HarperCollins Publishers

    Copyright © 2013 Helene Wecker
    All rights reserved.
    ISBN: 978-0-06-211083-1


    * 1 *
    1.
    The Golem's life began in the hold of a steamship. The year was
    1899; the ship was the Baltika, crossing from Danzig to New York.
    The Golem's master, a man named Otto Rotfeld, had smuggled her
    aboard in a crate and hidden her among the luggage.
    Rotfeld was a Prussian Jew from Konin, a bustling town to the
    south of Danzig. The only son of a well- to- do furniture maker, Rotfeld
    had inherited the family business sooner than expected, on his parents'
    untimely death from scarlet fever. But Rotfeld was an arrogant, feckless
    sort of man, with no good sense to speak of; and before five years had
    elapsed, the business lay before him in tatters.
    Rotfeld stood in the ruins and took stock. He was thirty- three years
    old. He wanted a wife, and he wanted to go to America.
    The wife was the larger problem. On top of his arrogant disposi-
    tion, Rotfeld was gangly and unattractive, and had a tendency to leer.
    Women were disinclined to be alone with him. A few matchmakers had
    approached him when he'd inherited, but their clients had been from
    inferior families, and he'd turned them away. When it became clear to
    all what kind of businessman he really was, the offers had disappeared
    completely.
    Rotfeld was arrogant, but he was also lonely. He'd had no real love
    affairs. He passed worthy ladies on the street, and saw the distaste in
    their eyes.
    It wasn't very long before he thought to visit old Yehudah Schaal-
    man.
    Stories abounded about Schaalman, all slightly different: that he was
    a disgraced rabbi who'd been driven out of his congregation; that he'd been
    possessed by a dybbuk and given supernatural powers; and even that he
    was over a hundred years old and slept with demon- women. But all the

    2 * HELENE WECKER
    stories agreed on this: Schaalman liked to dabble in the more dangerous
    of the Kabbalistic arts, and he was willing to offer his ser vices for a price.
    Barren women had visited him in the dead of night and conceived soon
    after. Peasant girls in search of men's affections bought Schaalman's bags of
    powders, and then stirred them into their beloveds' beer.
    But Rotfeld wanted no spells or love- potions. He had something else
    in mind.
    He went to the old man's dilapidated shack, deep in the forest that
    bordered Konin. The path to the front door was a half- trampled trail.
    Greasy, yellowish smoke drifted from a chimney- pipe, the only sign of
    habitation. The walls of the shack slouched toward a nearby ravine, in
    which a stream trickled.
    Rotfeld knocked on the door, and waited. After some minutes, he
    heard a shuffling step. The door opened a hand's width, revealing a man
    of perhaps seventy. He was bald, save for a fringe. His cheeks were deeply
    furrowed above a tangled beard. He stared hard at Rotfeld, as though
    daring him to speak.
    “Are you Schaalman?” Rotfeld asked.
    No answer, only the stare.
    Rotfeld cleared his throat, nervous. “I want you to make me a golem
    that can pass for human,” he said. “And I want it to be female.”
    That broke the old man's silence. He laughed, a hard bark. “Boy,” he
    said, “do you know what a golem is?”
    “A person made of clay,” Rotfeld said, uncertain.
    “Wrong. It's a beast of burden. A lumbering, unthinking slave.
    Golems are built for protection and brute force, not for the pleasures of
    a bed.”
    Rotfeld reddened. “Are you saying you can't do it?”
    “I'm telling you the idea is ridiculous. To make a golem that can
    pass for human would be near impossible. For one thing, it would need
    some amount of self- awareness, if only enough to converse. Not to men-
    tion the body itself, with realistic joints, and musculature . . .”
    The old man trailed off, staring past his visitor. He seemed to be
    considering something. Abruptly he turned his back on Rotfeld and dis-
    appeared into the gloom of the shack. Through the open door Rotfeld

    THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI * 3
    could see him shuffling carefully through a stack of papers. Then he
    picked up an old leather- bound book and thumbed through it. His finger
    ran down a page, and he peered at something written there. He looked
    up at Rotfeld.
    “Come back tomorrow,” he said.
    Accordingly, Rotfeld knocked again the next day, and this time
    Schaalman opened the door without pause. “How much can you pay?”
    he demanded.
    “Then it can be done?”
    “Answer my question. The one will determine the other.”
    Rotfeld named a figure. The old man snorted. “Half again, at the
    very least.”
    “But I'll have barely anything left!”
    “Consider it a bargain,” said Schaalman. “For isn't it written that
    a virtuous woman is more precious than rubies? And her virtue”— he
    grinned— “will be guaranteed!”
    Rotfeld brought the money three days later, in a large valet case.
    The edge of the nearby ravine was newly disfigured, a piece the length of
    a man scooped away. An earth- stained spade leaned against a wall.
    Schaalman opened the door with a distracted look, as though inter-
    rupted at a crucial moment. Streaks of mud crusted his clothing and
    daubed his beard. He saw the valet case and grabbed it from Rotfeld's
    hand.
    “Good,” he said. “Come back in a week.”
    The door slammed shut again, but not before Rotfeld had caught a
    glimpse inside the shack, of a dark figure laid out in pieces on a table— a
    slender trunk, rough limbs, and one curled hand.
    “What do you prefer in a woman?” Schaalman asked.
    It was the following week, and this time Rotfeld had been allowed
    inside. The shack was dominated by the table that Rotfeld had glimpsed
    before, and the young man couldn't help sneaking glances at its burden: a

    4 * HELENE WECKER
    human- shaped form, draped with a
    (Continues...)

    Excerpted from The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. Copyright © 2013 Helene Wecker. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
    All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
    Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

     



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