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Helene Wecker

Helene WeckerHelene Wecker grew up in Libertyville, Illinois, a small town north of Chicago, and received her Bachelor’s in English from Carleton College in Minnesota. After graduating, she worked a number of marketing and communications jobs in Minneapolis and Seattle before deciding she wanted to write something longer than a press release. Accordingly, she moved to New York to pursue a Master’s in fiction writing at Columbia University. She now lives near San Francisco with her husband and daughter.
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Marion chats with Helene Wecker

Helene Wecker’s debut novel, The Golem and the Jinni (reviewed here), explores the immigrant experience through the eyes of two folkloric creatures. Helene took some time from her schedule to answer some of my questions and to give me a signed copy of The Golem and the Jinni which I’ll pass on to one random commenter.

Marion Deeds: The Golem and the Jinni is primarily an immigrant’s tale, but your title characters, being folkloric creatures, added a new level to the story. Once again, America is engaged in a dialogue, often a nasty one, about the value of immigrants. Should we have a quota for immigrant jinnis, for instance? (Just kidding.) What do you think your book brings to the discussion?

Helene Wecker: It's funny, it took me a while to realize th... Read More

The Hidden Palace: Double the golems and jinnis

The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker

In The Hidden Palace (2021) Helene Wecker returns to the richly-imagined world of The Golem and the Jinni, fin de siècle New York City, focusing on the Jewish and Syrian immigrant communities. Chava, an intelligent golem created by an evil-hearted genius, was set free by the unexpected death of her intended husband and master, left with the ability to hear the thoughts of all humans instead of just her master. The jinni Ahmad is released from the bottle that imprisoned him, but he is bound to tangible human form with no discernable way to remove the curse. Despite their opposite natures of earth and fire, golem and jinni are drawn together in a world where neither fits in, and both are hiding their true natures from the humans around them … at least, most of them.

A... Read More

The Golem and the Jinni: A magical mural of the immigrant experience

Reposting to include Jana's new review.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

A Genie. A golem. Nineteenth-century New York City. Boy, did I want to love this book. Drawn by its come-hither characters, its promise of poetry, and by its dark side in the form of a truly nasty character, I really, really wanted to love it. And truth is, I liked The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker. But in the well-trod words of middle school, I didn’t “like like” it. Oh, it was fun, it made me smile sometimes and think sometimes and feel a bit sad at other times. I enjoyed hanging out with it for the length of its near-500 pages. But, despite that fire-genie at its heart, there just wasn’t that spark. I just wanted to be friends.

We meet our two fantastical characters early on via two different storylines. The Golem, Chava, travels to 1899 New York on a steamer and finds herself ashore in... Read More