New Fantasy Novel Draws On That Old Jewish Black Magic

This piece was first published in The Times of Israel.

Jewish author Helene Wecker drew inspiration for 'The Golem and The Jinni' from her marriage to her Arab American husband. (photo credit: Sheldon Wecker)

Jewish author Helene Wecker drew inspiration for ‘The Golem and The Jinni’ from her marriage to her Arab American husband. (photo credit: Sheldon Wecker)

As far as getting a first novel published, Helene Wecker’s experience was almost a fairytale. With only one published short story to her name, she looked up an agent she once met years ago when she was in graduate school. The agent agreed to take her on, and within a short time, her imaginative work of folklore and fantasy sold at auction. It was as though some of the magic in Wecker’s book had rubbed off on her.

“I feel incredibly lucky. I really jumped over the paying my dues part,” Wecker tells The Times of Israel by phone from her home near San Francisco. Her debut, “The Golem and The Jinni,” a fast-paced adventure set in turn of the 20th century New York, may have taken Wecker seven years off and on to write, but it didn’t take long for it to gain positive reviews upon its publication last April.

Critics and the reading public alike have been captivated by Wecker’s creative narrative, which has two supernatural creatures from different historical eras and parts of the world arriving separately (the Golem by ship and the Jinni by copper flask) in New York in 1899. Eventually, the Golem from 19th century Poland and the Jinni from Ancient Syria accidentally meet one another. They bond and then separate after a terrifying incident, only to later reunite to fight a power bent on destroying them both.

While readers may be familiar with the mythic Golem of Jewish lore, a clay figure brought to life by Kabbalistic charms, it is unlikely they have ever encountered one quite like the one in this novel. This is because the Golem conjured by Wecker’s imagination is female, and her name is Chava.

Click here to read more.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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