Friday, May 31, 2013

Review of Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni

GOLEM WATCH: Strong fiction debut pairs immigrant Golem, Jinni (Joel Boyce, Winnipeg Free Press).
New YORK, 1899. Another boatload of those teeming masses is about to arrive at Ellis Island, among them a solemn, statuesque woman from Danzig.

Caught without a ticket, she leaps off the ship and sinks like a stone, only to walk out onto the banks of the Lower East Side, hours later and miles away. Golem, of course, cannot swim.

Meanwhile, in Little Syria, a tinsmith is labouring over a dented antique oil lamp. Erasing a portion of the ancient script, he is nearly knocked out by the explosive release of an imprisoned desert spirit.

Trapped in human form, the fiery being, whose true name can only be spoken by the wind, is equally surprised by where he's ended up.

These are the opening chapters of American Helene Wecker's literary debut, and they're doozies. Perhaps the most famous beast of Jewish folklore is paired with a creature right out of The Arabian Nights. And they're re-imagined as developed, human-like characters.

An earlier review and more golem links are here.