by Helene Wecker

Reviewer Rating:


This book was an incredibly interesting take on the immigrant experience in New York, 1899. While many immigrant stories include bits of folklore that people bring with them, this book treats two characters of folktales as immigrants themselves. The story explores two ethnic immigrant communities in New York through the eyes of Chava, a golem created by a rabbi involved in dark magic in Poland and Ahmed, a jinni who was bound and trapped in a golden flask in Syria, a thousand years prior. Both characters interact in their neighborhoods- one a strict Jewish community and the other a tight knit Christian Syrian community.  Both Chava and Ahmed are enslaved in different capacities and seek out meaning and relevance in a new world. 

The story can also be treated as a greater metaphor for the relevance of folktales and cultural stories for immigrants in new countries. Do these stories hold weight in new environments, even if the people they interact with are from outside their culture or have moved on in America?

A great read for people who love history with a touch of fantasy. The story is full of beautiful imagery, themes and languages. Highly recommended!

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