I’m a librarian – reading books is basically what I do for a living. Through my life there have been a handful of books that hit me – Colony of Unrequited Dreams, Anil’s Ghost and Fall on Your Knees are three that come to mind off the bat. The Golem and the Jinni is one of those books, and I’m not saying that lightly. I was pre-disposed to like it I think – I loved the idea of mysticism, my Mom immigrated to NYC post WW2 as a child so the idea of a book set among the kind of romance of immigration (admittedly 50 years earlier) was one I could get behind. I love Jewish Folklore – hell, I love any folklore. I love historical fiction. I’m also the first to admit that I love New York. I do. I grew up spending summers there and I remember the beauty, hope and life that to me that city means. So what I’m saying is my pre-disposition to like the book scared me. I really really wanted to love it and was worried I was setting the book up to not be able to meet expectations. In no way did this book not meet expectations.
One reviewer said the book humbled him – it humbled me too. Wecker’s debut (Guys, this is a debut novel. Seriously. When you read it you won’t believe it.) wove a story in the best possible tradition of storytelling. It’s magical realism at it’s absolute best. It’s heartbreaking, touching and quite possibly shows an almost staggeringly accurate ability to write characters that make you want to believe in fairy tales again. It’s about the struggle to fit in, to belong, to find place and meaning, to create a home, build a family, hope and future. Wecker’s ability to write meaningfully about feeling like you don’t know where your home is threw me – it wasn’t said but the longing felt by the characters of their memories was touching in its simple beauty.
On a more surface level I plowed through the book, but I wouldn’t cash in on it as an ‘easy fast’ read, I just couldn’t put it down. The pacing is on the slower side (this isn’t a complaint in the least, Wecker pulled it out beautifully) and to be honest I was sad to come to the end of the book. The mysticism of the book was beautifully real, not forced and the details were in the subtleties.
Basically I can’t wait to see what Wecker comes up with next.