Helene Wecker's genius is that she finds both of these creatures in late nineteenth-century New York, and puts them both down on the Lower East Side, the golem in the Yiddish-speaking tenements and the jinni in the area known as Little Syria. Most of the people around them can't recognize them for what they are, but their magical qualities allow them to recognize each other, even if they are puzzled and more than a little frightened by what they see. And, you guessed it, they are thrown together to fight evil and forge an improbably and weirdly moving bond of love. Wecker is clearly enjoying herself, but she is able to keep her story from ever slipping into gratuitous silliness, and the plot keeps the reader racing ahead to see what might happen next. In addition, she creates another great picture of old New York, adding a lovely magical element to the myth of our greatest city. I'm betting that The Golem and the Jinni will be one of the big books of the summer.
Wecker reads at Nicola's Books on July 22.