Visit 1899 NYC for an Unusual & Tender Immigrant Story in 'The Golem and the Jinni'

Visit 1899 NYC for an Unusual & Tender Immigrant Story in 'The Golem and the Jinni'

Thursday, 19 November, 2020

The right book can instantly transport you to anywhere — and anytime — in the world. Every Thursday, we recommend one of our favorite books with a strong sense of place so you can see the sights, meet remarkable people, go on exciting adventures, and feel big feelings. Bonus: You don't even have to put on pants.

This post is part of our 'Weekend Getaway' series.


This weekend, escape to turn-of-the-century New York — the tenements of the lower east side and the romance of that extraordinary time. You’ll meet two unlikely new friends: a Jewish golem from Poland and an Arab jin from Egypt. Their history divides them; their adventures in their new country will bring them together.

This fantastic and fantastical novel transports you to turn-of-the-century New York. It tells the tale of two unforgettable characters whose unlikely friendship is the beating heart of this unusual immigrant story.

Chava is a female golem, created in Poland to be the companion of a man who never makes it to the New World. Ahmad is a fiery Egyptian Jinni who’s been trapped in a copper flask he finds tricky to truly escape.

A Jewish golem, an Arab jin — they should be opposites, enemies, unable to forgive or understand each other.

But they surprise themselves and us by forging a bond that eventually demolishes the obstacles — internal and external — that divide them. Just as it seems they’ve found a friendship to endure the ages, fate intervenes, and everything they treasure is at risk.

Along the way, there’s plenty of adventure, romance, danger, friendship, and brutal tests of their bond. Wecker deftly weaves a tapestry of Middle Eastern tradition, Yiddish lore, and American history — then sprinkles it with just the right amount of magic dust. It’s suspenseful, tender, and always surprising.


Word to the wise: The sequel to The Golem and the JinniThe Hidden Palace — is now available.

‘I trust you above all others,’ he told her. ‘Above myself.’ She shook her head, but then leaned into him, as though taking shelter. He drew her close, the crown of her head beneath his cheek. Beyond the hansom’s window, New York was an endless rhythm of walls and windows and doors, darkened alleys, flashes of sunlight. he thought, if he could pick a moment to be taken into the flask, a moment to live in endlessly, perhaps he would choose this one: the passing city, and the woman at his side. — Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Jinni

by Helene Wecker

This historical fantasy (496 pages) was published in April of 2013 by Anchor. The book takes you to turn-of-the-century New York. Melissa read The Golem and the Jinni and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it. is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.

The Golem and the Jinni


Top image courtesy of United States Library of Congress.

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