Rating – 5 stars
Somethings should be experienced to be believed, to be felt. It’s not that people don’t try to sum up their experience of a particular odd or in a way bizarre experience but words don’t always do justice, not in every situation. Reading the summary of this book I had added it to my TBR a long time back, but could not make the time to read it for so many months.
Last month I finally found the time and yet in all these days I cannot adequately summarize the desolation, the loneliness and sheer glum this book, and its characters made me feel.
Bringing together two magical/fantastical creatures, in her début novel Helen Wecker creates this breathtaking piece of art.
A Jinni, imprisoned for over a thousand years, only recently released from his exile and a recently created and newly brought to life Golem, are the protagonists of Wecker’ beautiful book. Set in 1899 New York, these two lonely and out of the ordinary creatures find themselves befuddled to be a part of a world where they can show to none their true-selves.
Ahmad, the Jinni, is released from the vessel he has been imprisoned in,accidentally by a poor Syrian tinsmith he is working on. The tinsmith and Jinni, find themselves cornered with the discovery, however decide to keep it as their secret and the Jinni is christened as Ahmad and finds himself soon the apprentice of the young tinsmith.
On the other end, Chava the golem is brought to life by her master aboard a ship bound for the States, who dies soon afterwards owing to a ruptured appendix. A confused Chava is overwhelmed on finding herself alone in a strange land among strange people, however is rescued by Rabbi Avram Meyer, who takes her in and shelters her. The Rabbi, though cautious and scared of the golem initially , slowly and steadily finds himself concerned for her as he tries to help Chava settle in her new life.
For a major part of the first half of the book, these two lonely creatures don’t cross paths, the reader learns of them gradually, as well as another character called – Yehudah Schaalman, who plays a major part in the lives of the golem and the jinni.
Different as can be Chava and Ahmad, find solace in each other’ company, though they cannot be said to be in love. Not really. But they simply belong together.
I would like to write a lot about this book, but unfortunately am short on time and words that could do justice to one of the most beautifully written books I have read this year, by one of the most promising debut authors of the year.