A swirlment of folklore surging to life in New York City,… “The Golem and the Jinni” by Helene Wecker, a debut novelist who captured my heart

Posted Wednesday, 17 July, 2013 by jorielov , , 13 Comments

Parajunkee DesignsThe Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Published by: HarperCollins PublishersApril 2013.

Page Count: 496 Converse on Twitter: #GolemandtheJinni

Borrowed Book By: My local library for which I am forever grateful in seeking out fantastical new writers, who pen brilliantly conceived worlds with the breath of a realm just past ours! I know one day I want this book to be amongst those treasured books in my personal library!

What captivated me to wish to drink in the narrative, whilst I discovered it amongst the stacks of books featured on Book Browse? I think it was the premise that sparked a curiosity that would only become quenched if I were to drink in the narrative. Sometimes I feel as though the books speak to me, in that, it’s the full effect of their presence,… from premise to cover art to the foreboding idea of what may lie beneath of the pages. I get a sense that I am drawn to certain titles moreso than others. You have to admit, to embark on an adventure that spans centuries and involves mystical and fantastical elements of magical proportions packs quite the appealment! Over on the author’s website, you will find a hearty excerpt, as well as bonus information on the neighbourhoods in New York City, as much as the characters which you can find on the right toolbar whilst your reading the excerpt! To seek out more information behind the scenes of the book, read the articles threaded through the Jewish Book Council.

 Read an Excerpt of the Novel:

The Golem and the Djinni – Helene Wecker extract by HarperCollinsPublishersUK  

Inspired to Share: I think anytime you’re giving the gift of hearing an author speak about their book is a moment you do not want to bypass! I haven’t always been able to travel to book signings or author lectures, but through the availability of author interviews online, I am finding that I enjoy hearing in their own words why they choose a particular story to tell. Listen to hear Ms. Wecker speak about a book that is stitched close to her heart.

Interview with Helene Wecker, author of “The Golem and the Jinni”,  

by HarperBooks, which is part of HarperCollins, the publisher.  

By the Time I reached Page 34: I had settled into the atmosphere of the setting and the presumption of knowing what I might be in for as the story progressed forward, as both the Golem and the Jinni had made their individual appearances. I was struck by similarities to other fantasy characters I had already become acquainted with, as with the Jinni I was reminded instantly of “Q”: the arrogantly curious omnipotence being who could not detach himself from humans due to his disgust with the simplicity of the species and the curious nature behind their innate humanity.

Two entities bound by an infinite level of what they can yield and achieve, yet struck down by boredom, impertinence, and impatience! {Q is a character from Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek”, a series of four tv serials and eight motion pictures by which I loved whilst growing up and continue to appreciate to this day! Q was portrayed by the incomparable John d’ Lancie who made him endearing to watch!} Whereas the Golem, took on a few hintings of Troi, {Another reference to Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek”.}, where the Golem struggled to deal with the voices she overheard whilst amongst humans, because she emphatically and telepathically was connected to their innermost thoughts and desires. Yet, reminded me more of Data, in the struggle towards being more human! Both entities shared the common element of being made by man and for man’s purposes, at least initially. Her ability to be self-aware and learn from her experiences also held Data in my mind as I began to know more of her character.

From there, as those were my initial points of reference to sink further into the world Ms. Wecker had created,… I was enjoying the references of cultural heritages, immigrations through Ellis Island, and noting the author’s use of the Five Elements, Plus One: the Golem {of Clay}, the Jinni {of Fire}, Humans {of Earth},… which led my mind to speculate a sequel involving Air and Water! And, how intriguing it would be to stitch all of this together! I was not even sure at first if this would be the type of story that I could comfortably sink myself into, as although I used to read quite a heap of science fiction and fantasy novels, it’s been half an age since I last picked one up! It’s always been my fervent intention, if not desire, to regain a passion for this part of literature, and as the words drenched through my eyes and permeated my imagination; I felt that for once, I might have stumbled across a way back into the genre I’ve ached for since I was seventeen! The very moment upon which the genre was vibrantly enticing, entirely new, and easily able to be read! It’s a wonderful moment for a reader to find their way back into a section of literature they once feared they’d have to abandon completely!

I Always Appreciate a Wordsmith: And, Ms. Wecker is amongst my favourites in this regard, because she chooses to entice your mind and imagination with a palette of textural rich incantations of literary narrative! She has the ability to write a viscerally stimulating setting set in distinctively enriched cultural neighbourhoods of New York City with a clarity that befools your mind into not realising we’re currently in the 21st Century whilst reading this book in hand! Your drawn back into the past, as the veils of time reveal a world where immigrants lived with a constant fear of not fitting in or being understood. Where they hoped to re-create a new life for themselves, but always questioned if they were succeeding. A world where you could either make it or break it based on the resolve and strength you carried within you when you travelled by boat to the New World.

I couldn’t drink in her narrative fast enough, and even then, I debated if I should be so very hungry and thirsty for the next page, because I didn’t want to run like lightning through such an enriched text! I wanted to linger as I absorbed the sights, sounds, and aromas of each neighbourhood and crevice of space that is shared with us. We take a journey alongside the characters, as we’re introduced to not only two remarkably unique characters, in the “Golem” herself and in the “Jinni” himself, but the passageways that led them to New York City. Oh how I appreciate a wordsmith who delicately weaves her tale into our mind’s eye with a bewitching vernacular!

Ruminatively Inclined to Muse About: The original necessity of conjuring a Golem and the mythlogical-mysticism surrounding the Jin! This book encompasses such haunting notions of a man-made creature brought to life from clay, though upon a bit of superficial digging into the origins of Golems, I learnt that they can be conjured from more than mere clay, but always by the hand of man, not God. In fact, that is a distinction that is proposed in the story itself, as how can a creature of man, be not only curious about God, but question how faith and religion plays a part in their existence as much as mankind? There are overlapping topics that draw a breath of digging deeper than mere folklore surging to life in a city that many are intrigued and fascinated by each year. The very essence of self-identity, self-awareness, faith, religion, ethnical heritage, cultural identity, self-worth, ethics and logic, good vs. evil, and the oldest of adages, best not to meddle in affairs that we are not meant to muddle into much less grasp! I appreciated the underpinnings of Jewish and Arabic mythologies interwoven into the plot, which I learnt by way of the interview posted here were inspired directly by Ms. Wecker’s own background and that of her husband’s! To cultivate a novel that gives a plausible thesis with a difficult resolution is one of literary brilliance.

A Lasting Impression: The Golem and the Jinni is a classic premise of star-crossed lovers who do not realise they’re meant to be in each other’s lives. The story is a play on Pride and Prejudice as well, as you become introduced to Ahmed {the Jinni} and Chava {the Golem}, they tend to take on counterparts of characters you might already love as I do. Yet, there are distinctive differences as well. I appreciated the fragility and flawed character of Chava, who despite all her best efforts and attempts to becoming a humanoid, she must render herself hinged to her nature as a Golem. This startling fact for her, is not a surprise to the reader as there are enough facts pointed out to this regard, but to read her reaction and her acceptance of this was done with a deft hand! Nature or Nurture is a heavily argued point to understand the underpinnings of one’s personality and traits of action. 
It’s not all whittled down into black and white principles or plausible scientific explanations either. This is a running play of acknowledging that even if you think you know a particular subject, there is always the possibility that the subject is going to surprise you, and take you to places you hadn’t yet fathomed to be true. The Jinni, Ahmed is as arrogant as they come, determined to place himself superior above all others, even if his actions are a hazard to those he chooses not to attach himself too. He’s the complete opposite of Chava, who being an empathic being is well and fully aware of human emotions and the counter balance it takes to live amongst them. She is constantly aware of the consequences of both thought and action. Whereas Ahmed is more concerned with his own affairs and his own needs to even consider another person first. This tug of war between their character traits and the way in which they choose to live ultimately has a high price for those in their inner circles. 
Each were set on a course to learn and grow out of their experiences in a place neither expected to be. They each succumb to their inherent natures, but I feel only one of them is able to change the other for the good. Because one of them is stronger than the other as far as knowing how to make good on what has been turned for the bad. Their journey leads not to a resolution of sorts to overcome their individual obstacles towards true freedom, but rather too a junction point that leads them to question everything they felt they knew thus far along. And, in that conclusion the reader has to sit back and ponder the true meaning behind “The Golem and the Jinni”, for was it a journey of theirs that you took or an inward journey of understanding the limitations of humanity?

 

  The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker,

Book Trailer by HarperBooks, which is part of HarperCollins, the publisher.  

It Should Be Known: I am always excited by the curious peculiarities of the frequency of serendipitous discoveries! In the world of books, I can attest to having many an adventure of coming upon a book, a book that I might not yet feel a warming towards, only to become further entranced by its premise and the curious nature of ‘what I could find inside it’s pages’ to the brink that I simply MUST find a copy to give myself the ability to decide for myself, “Is this or is this not a book I am attracted too rather than simply being infatuated with?” Within the trailer, there is a brief cursory mentioning of “The Night Circus” and “A Discovery of Witches”,… the first was a book of interest the year it originally published although the reasoning behind ‘why’ I wanted to read it remained elusive; and the latter is a book I plucked off the shelf of the library on an ordinary ‘library run’ which led me to realise the author was soon to be featured on Booktalk Nation,… yet… the stars did not align for me. Not to read either book OR to participate in the Booktalk Nation event. Isn’t it curious then, that this book in particular, by which I was able to read at a moment I was most keen too, leads me back to these!?

Fly in the Ointment: I was most distracted by the scene [opening pages of Chapter Twelve] by which Chava returns to the Rabbi’s flat after he has passed on,… she runs into Michael, his nephew at the door, and the exchangement of dialogue felt out of context for what she would normally have said much less thought: it was too peculiar, as she seemed to ‘understand’ the process of a Jewish passing far more than she’s meant too, and the whole scene reeked of a displacement for me! It was nearly as if this was a part of a re-edit that went terribly wrong OR was not fully congealed to the rest of the story — I ran it through my mind and if it was left out completely, it wouldn’t have affected my understanding the flow of the story. After a second reading of the same scene, after having gone well past it’s section {nearly a quarter further into the story!}, I denoted what the main issue actually was! Chava was responding to Michael with the presumption that she was reading his thoughts, but there was an absence of his internal voice from this sequence of dialogue and narrative exchangements! That is precisely what I had picked up on, but hadn’t registered fully because I was too entranced to lament what stoked my ire! This small absence felt a jutting away from Chava’s character straight down to her personality traits and how she interacts with humans.

Cliffhanger Ending: I will admit, that I was twenty pages out when the book was recalled to the library, and I didn’t want to forsake my enjoyment of the story’s conclusion by rushing the pages and missing out on the experience! I never want to skip over dialogue or narrative for the sake of completing a novel, but at the very same time, I was betwixt what to do, as I felt for certain this book would be a ‘must read’ selection at the library! Imagine my gobsmacked expression when I learnt it was returning back with me! No one had placed a hold!? That was beyond shocking to me! I’ll admit, when I first picked up the book, as the initial pages started to prop up the images in my mind,… I wasn’t certain if I’d fully enjoy reading this story or if I would be too far afield in a narrative I was not used too. 

Yet. At the ending chapters, I found myself moving into a place I wasn’t expecting to land: the quagmire of a cliffhanger! Perhaps its the optimist in me that hopes for a resolution that characters can live with OR either accept if the cards do not come to pass their way,… but to exit a novel such as this with a cliffhanger ending was not something I had surmised for myself! Sophia’s character had a mere passing of thought after her main appearance at a pivotal moment for the Jinni {which I will not reveal here as it’s too gutting to even think of spoilting it for a reader!}. And, then there is the Golem and the Jinni themselves who more or less are left with an ambiguous ending of this part of their journey! I closed the book half aghast at myself for being so properly irked! I felt a bit short-changed I suppose, because more than anything, I thought everything leading up to those pages was preparing me for the inevitable! Saleh I think had the easier path in the end, as he ultimately did find the peace he sought so hard to achieve. It’s Ahmed and Chava that I am concerned about, and wonder if my original ideas about Water and Air might play a part in what I hope will be a sequel? How can we forevermore not know the conclusion!? Surely there is a door to unlock this literary key!?

Expanding my Understanding of the Subject:

Golems: Whenever I become curious about a subject explored in a book, I do try to find the time to expand my knowledge of said subject and expand my understanding in the process! Usually, a stepping stone towards that goal is to see if there is a page outlining the newly found interest on Wikipedia, and continuing onwards from there! The many blessings of bing’ing or googling is the ability to run broad spectrums searches, which yield a plethora of results: a short essay on Golems seen in Literature; an article about the Golem of Prague, which is now featured at the Jewish Museum in Prague {Czech Republic}, substantiating the role of a Rabbi’s involvement; known as an entity without a soul wielded into existence by a mineral and moulded into a solid; another point of view reference of the Golem of Prague; to many points of reference to biblical texts and other religious texts that point to the history of these creatures being in existence. Inasmuch as an article on the expanding offerings of modern literature who places the Golem at the heart of the storyline.

Jinnis: The basics are outlined on the Wikipedia page that speaks of the Jinn; of whom are also cross-referenced and referred too throughout biblical and religious texts the world over; are known to be innately good, evil, or neutral combined with the ability of free will; specifically attached to Arabian mythology roots; known widely as Fire Spirits; I struggled to find more about the Jinn. I think the greatest surprise for me, is that I originally attempted to become interested in Mythology {Greek, back then!} whilst in seventh grade, yet I think it’s the application of the subject of my teacher that prompted me to be turned off rather than lit with interest! Since then, I have unearthed a variety of origins for specific mythological tales, folklore, and stories from ancient times that hold within them a connection to both our past and our future. Stories have always been ways for generations to knit together the knowledge that one age would need to pass onward to another, and I believe in this way, most modern eras are devoid of acknowledging the beauty of living histories {ie: within individual families} OR the fables of long since gone storytellers who tried to entomb a sense of morality and truth into their narratives.

 My next diversions into Golem and Jinni works of literature:
  • The Arabian NightsVisions of the Jinn: Illustrators of the Arabian Nights by Robert Irwin
  • I Wish… by Tia Harrington
  •  The Genie’s Wish by Terry Spear
  • The Secrets of Droon by Tony Abbott
  • Freeing the Genie Within by Debra Lynne Katz
  • The Jerry-Can Genie by Judy Griffith Gill
  • Children of the Lamp series by P.B. Kerr
  •  Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar by Robert Lebling
  • The Jinn from Hyperspace by Martin Gardner
  • World of the Jinn by Amira El-Zein

{NOTE: You may realise I have not included the works of J.R.R. Tolkien in my list, which was intentional as I have the Complete Histories of Middle Earth, as much as a omibus volume of The Lord of the Rings,… the truth is that I packed my volumes of Tolkien {there are other books of his in my personal library!} away several years ago, and until I unpack them, I do not wish to dip back into Middle Earth,… as my first experience was through the films by director Peter Jackson by which I am blessed to have seen on the silver screen. Likewise, titles with an * were already slated to be read!}

NEWSFLASH: Magical Realism, a new genre to explore!

I am never one to be pragmatically inclined to think that I have come across all that there is to know about literature, much less the infinite selection of sub-genres, thematic superlatives, or other distinctions that classify one book from another! Of course, if you have read more than one post on my blog, you’ll note this as I tend to add a bit more categorisations than one book might need, but those were the lasting impressions of where I think ‘the book fits’ if I were to select categories for its placing in my own personal library. I do suppose this eeks out a bit of a nodding to my geekery tendencies! What I hadn’t expected is that “The Golem and the Jinni” belongs under the heading of “Magical Realism”, which by direct definition is EXACTLY what the story relates too encompassing: supernatural existences running counter-current to the space-time continuum that herein refers to New York City on the edge of the 20th century dawning! Further still, much to my chagrin to seek out a smörgåsbord of websites and lists made by other readers,… I saw myself nodding in askance and surprise to see the following books listed as also pertaining to my newly beloved literary realm! Books of which are already included on my ever-expanding, ever drawing towards infinity list of books I hope to read! As much as a few curious new authors and titles that leapt out at me! A handful are already a part of my personal library! Eek. How exciting!

One Hundred Years of Solitude & Life in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel; The House of the Spirits, Of Love and Shadows, The Infinite Plan, and Daughter of Fortune by Isobel Allende; Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, and The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison AllenLife of Pi by Yann Martel; The Shadow of the Wind {The Cementary of Forgotten Books} by Carlos Ruiz ZafónChocolat by Joanne HarrisThe Night Circus by Erin MorgansternA Midsummer Night’s Dream by William ShakespeareThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak; Possession by A.S. Byatt; The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly; The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova; Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë; A Discovery of Witches {All Souls Trilogy} by Deborah Harkness; The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender; After Forever Ends by Melodie Ramone; The Humingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea; Nights at the Circus by Emma Rice; The Ice Queen, The River Queen, The Third Angel, The Story Sisters, The Probable Future, The Dovekeepers, and Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman; The History of Love by Nicole Krauss; Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin; A Great and Terrible Beauty {Gemma Doyle} by Libba Bray; In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez; The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe; Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll; The Unbearable Lightness of Being and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera; The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry; Big Fish & The Kings and Queens of Roam by Daniel Wallace; Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa; The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht; Coraline by Neil Gaiman; A Trip to the Stars by Nicholas Christopher; The Mistress of Spices and Queen of Dreams by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni; The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey; Of Bee’s and Mist by Erick Seitawan; The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter; Outlander {Outlander} by Diana Gabaldon; Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondance {Griffin and Sabine} by Nick Bantock; A Place Called Here, The Book of Tomorrow, and If You Could See Me Now by Ceceila Ahern; The Rose Garden, Mariana, The Winter Sea, The Shadowy Horses, and The Firebrand by Susanna Kearsley; Eva Moves the Furniture by Margot Livesey; Harry Potter, en total by J.K. Rowling; Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt; The Dead Zone and Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King; The World to Come by Dara Horn; The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas; The Baker’s Man by Jennifer Moorman; Moon Over Donamorgh by Marlene Dotterer; Eleven Sundays by Alonna Shaw; The Curious Ways of the Winships by Andrea Mina Saver; Ruby’s Spoon by Anna Lawrence Pietroni; Anna Kerenina by Leo Tolstoy; Universes Within the Universe by Paola Sanjinez {on AuthorHouse}; Forget-Her-Nots & The Language of Flowers by Amy Brecount White; The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley; Summer’s Child by Luanne Rice; The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington; Under Fishbone Clouds by Sam Meekings; The Metropolis Case by Matthew Galloway; Cinders: A Cinderella Sequel {re-titled: Bonded} by Michelle D. Argyle; Museum of Happiness: A Novel by Jesse Lee Kercheval; At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald; The Tail of Emily Windsnap {Emily Windsnap} by Liz Kessler; The Matchmaker of Périgord by Julia Stuart; The Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill; The Secret World of Polly Flint and Moondial by Helen Cresswell; thus far I have found at this time.

There is one author in particular who is credited as having originated the term Magical Realism, enso if your curiosity is piqued you can read more about Gabriel Garcia Marquez to learn more about how he came to formulate his technique. Whereas Dana Gioia has taken akin to writing about his style. One of the best essays I have found on the subject as to outline the motivation of a reader to want to sink into the stories, is by Alberto Ríos from the Department of English, at Arizona State University. Unexpectedly, I found this article about Magical Realism, by In My Good Books. This section of literature has even inspired a Magical Realism Book Club. As I browse back over the text box of authors and titles that I created above, I am noting that this isn’t quite the new discovery as I forethought it to being, but rather still, a hidden window into the fact that I am drawn most heartily into this sort of writing more often than naught!

{NOTE: You will notice I did not include “The Time Traveller’s Wife”, a book I duly wanted to read ahead of the motion picture release, yet in the end, lost the hours to do so, and saw the film! I was emotionally wrecked for days! I dared myself not to even contemplating ever to read the book! As I was fearful all those anguished emotions would come flooding back to me! “Tuck Everlasting” was a novel that left me in tears, of which I read closer to the time of the motion picture’s release. And, “The School of Essential Ingredients” is not listed as it’s a read-in-progress! Nor did I include the works of J.R.R. Tolkien which I have already mentioned as to why.}

{SOURCES: The interview with Ms. Wecker and the book trailer by HarperBooks, as well as the excerpt via Scribd had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed these respective media portals to this post, and I thank them for this opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it. Buy links on Scribd excerpt are not affiliated with Jorie Loves A Story. Book Review badge provided by Parajunkee Designs to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Tweets embeded due to the codes provided by Twitter.}

I would be keenly appreciative if anyone has any other titles by which to recommend to me? Perhaps even, sharing your thoughts on which books worked for you visually, which story arcs held the most heart and clarity of voice, and which ones you felt fell a bit short? I’d prefer to read stories that are of an uplifting nature, verse riddled in dark undertones of despair! OR, even more keenly, have you read one of the book’s that drew a breath of curiosity in me?! Let’s converse, shall we!?

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2013.

On 27th of August, 2014, I had the pleasure of attending a #LitChat convo with Ms. Helene Wecker on behalf of her beautiful novel, “The Golem & the Jinni”. Here are the highlights from that conversation, and if you click-through this (link) you can see the full conversation replayed as it occurred.

 

On the possibility of a Sequel:

 

My euphoric responses:
On my love & appreciation of the story overall:

 

The author talks about writing the story:

Closing Thoughts:

 

Comments on Twitter:

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 17 July, 2013 by jorielov in 19th Century, Author Interview, Book Browse, Book Trailer, Cliffhanger Ending, Debut Novel, Equality In Literature, Fly in the Ointment, Folklore and Mythology, Magical Realism, New York City, Scribd, Time Slip




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13 responses to “A swirlment of folklore surging to life in New York City,… “The Golem and the Jinni” by Helene Wecker, a debut novelist who captured my heart

    • Hallo, Shirley,

      Actually, would you believe I first picked up “The Night Circus” around Christmas, 2013 as I wanted to borrow it from my local library and Christmas felt like such a fitting time to start reading another Magical Realism selection! I have full intention of reading “The Night Circus” for this year’s “Sci-Fi November”. I’ll have to let you know when my thoughts and observations finally post, as I am forever grateful to Wecker for inspiring my heart into a style of narrative voice I was always keen on exploring! :)

      Thanks for your lovely compliments — the Trek cross-references simply felt a natural fit as I read the story! :)

  1. WOW! Amazing review. Really I can tell all the time you put into it. I really didn’t realize this was a genre. But I have read a couple books in this genre (The Night Circus, and The Shadow of the Wind.. both amazing). I suppose this is a genre I love too!! I didn’t even know it. I have been wanting to read this book for a while now and I just put it on hold at my library!

    • Hallo Angie! :)

      I am positively delighted you alighted on my blog tonight! My email server crashed which is why I am not getting email alerts right now, so I’m thankful I decided to stay up a bit longer to make sure I do not miss anything since posting my answer to Doing Dewey’s Bout Challenge!

      As soon as she had writ to link to a post we had written about a particular genre, this one sprouted straight to mind! And, your not alone in thinking this is a genre you’ve not yet heard of! I was quite a bit gobsmacked when I realised just how far reaching and wide this genre truly is! So much so, I considered all the books “modern classics” in the making — which is why they’re all copied over into my tCC (the Classics Club) master list!! :) :)

      Ooh, now you hit on one of the books I’m aiming to dig myself back into over the Bout: “The Night Circus!” I started to read it around Christmas (which is why there are tweets about it!), and I simply was aghast at how humbling it was to be reading such a delish story! I only made it through the opening pages, but I was simply spell-bound!

      This one originated the solidification in knowing my *heart!* is nestled into the genre!! Thank you so much for your compliments on this post! I truly wanted to leave a piece of the genre behind for others because like another commenter said, there isn’t a lot known or writ about it online!

      Do drop back after you’ve read it! We truly should talk about all our favourite bits!! :) :)

  2. Dianne Bartlett (@dbartlettauthor)

    I really appreciate your list and commentary on the magical realism genre. It’s hard to find a lot of information on what makes this genre distinct. Go ahead and read The Time Traveler’s Wife. I saw the movie first, then read the book. Both are good but are different from each other. (Similar to book and movie of Life of Pi – I love both but was glad I read the book first just because of the “surprise” in the book.) Gosh, I even have to say the same is true for Chocolat – book is different and darker than the movie, and the sequel book is intriguing. Anyway, I love this list of magical realism books. Thanks for this great post.

    • Thank you, Ms. Bartlett! :)

      My December has been such a swirl of activity this year, I haven’t had the proper chance to reply to your lovely note! I found the same to be true, as whilst I was researching & trying to uncover more information on the genre, I was equally disheartened to find that there isn’t much known about it! :( I am hopeful that all the books & bits of info I was able to curate into this post will help inspire others to seek out what I have come to be passionate about myself! :) We can always hope to inspire and encourage others to seek out books & stories that we ourselves are akin to reading, yes?!

      I will take your suggestion and keep “The Time Traveller’s Wife” on my short-list of books to read ‘at some point’, rather than to skip over it as I originally had intended! I do have a copy of it in my personal library,… Oh, I cannot wait to read “Life of Pi”!! I was captivated by the film trailer first, but wanted to read the book ahead of seeing it for a similar reason as you! Oh, boy! I surprise to look forward too! Those are always the best, I think! :)

      I am going to be reading “Chocolat” and “Life of Pi” during my Classics Club Challenge!! I inserted all the lovely Magical Realism books I found in this post, as I couldn’t chose amongst them! Laughs.

      Best blessing was reading that you enjoyed this post as much as I did in creating it! Happy reading adventures, this New Year 2014! Drop by again, I enjoyed our conversation!

  3. Leanne

    YAY my library has The Golem and the Jinni on audiobook! I may go right into that one after the one I’m currently listening to, if it’s available by then. :)

    I love watching authors talk about their books as well, as it gives me such a stronger urge to get into the story. Hearing about how much time she spent researching and her personal ties with the mythology makes it so much more appealing.

    That may be the only book trailer I’ve ever seen that I liked. Gave me chills. The watercolor silhouette background is quite lovely!

    As soon as you mentioned wanting to explore magical realism, Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen was the book I was going to suggest. I picked that book up completely by serendipitous circumstances earlier this year and it became one of my favorites of all time before I even got two chapters in. Her writing style is absolutely lovely, and I felt right at home in the Southern atmosphere she set Garden Spells in. I loved being able to walk through that house and its magical back yard in my mind while I was reading about it. It was actually the first non-review I wrote about a book on my brand new blog this past summer, and you can read it here if interested: http://literaryexcursion.com/2013/07/02/reading-retrospection-garden-spells/

    • Good morning, Leanne,

      I’m so thankful you mentioned Ms. Allen to me because she is *definitely!* going to be one of the authors I am going to explore in Bree’s Rewind Reading Challenge!! I love the basis for her challenge because this is a prime example of how I *found!* an author’s work who I could sense I might soak into on the level that your describing in your lovely note! I was very touched by your experience of reading this review, because one of the topics which was broached on my first podcast for The Star Chamber, is how honest do you feel a book blogger can be in a book showcase (&/or review)? I answered with my heart, saying that even though sometimes I give a bit more than others (such as this one!), I always try to prevent myself from shifting over from sharing my reading experience to full-on having my post spoilt the potential reading experience for a reader! I do my best to ‘earmark’ a mentioning in a post where it might shift into this, but from what I gathered of your note here, what I spoke about in the podcast about having a barometer of balance is exactly what you felt I achieved too! As you were stating that this review only heightened your reason for wanting to read (listen, rather!) “The Golem & the Jinni”!! Warmed my heart to no end!!

      I’m going to go over to your blog lateron today when I have more time to spend reading the post properly! I am thankful to know we have an author in common! For me, she’s one that had me at Hallo for her writing style & the stories she’s exploring. Whereas for you, its an author who does *exactly!* what I said in the podcast: has the ability to transport us into our own time slip jettisoning us out of our living reality and placed solely into her written world! Beautiful!

  4. Ooooh The Golem and the Jinni sounds really good! Though I too am not in love with cliffhanger endings…

    If you’re looking for another Magical Realism story set in New York City, I did review the Middle Grade novel The Crowded Kingdom by Louella Dizon San Juan at the beginning of October (I don’t know if you saw it or not, but it’s here just in case). I’m not sure how easy it will be for you to get a copy because it’s self-published, but definitely worth looking into if you have the chance.

    There are lots of other Magic Realism stories on my ‘read’ list that I could recommend, but that was the first one that popped into my head. Let me know if you want more, I don’t want all the recs to be from me! ;)

    Oh, and I adore Neil Gaiman’s Coraline!

    • Hallo Christine,

      I am hoping more readers find “The Golem & the Jinni” due to the breadth of what what the author gave us to discovery! I was inspired to tweet about this post, whilst reading about Leanne & Kelly’s discussion on “Magical Realism” as a genre via Literary Excursion’s Winter Wonderland Bingo Card! I am finding myself addicted to those Bingo Cards! :) Oh, I don’t mind if you wanted to suggest several titles! I simply want to discuss the genre! I will be clicking over to read the book you reviewed in a few moments, as I am not remembering if I had seen that particular review or not! :)

      I originally found “Coraline” prior to the motion picture, but the film came out before I could get around to reading the story! I still plan to read it, and then, watch the film! :) Its one of the few times I stuck to my preference for ‘reading before watching’!! :)

      • YAY! Okay, so, recs. Rose by Holly Webb (which I also reviewed, here) is a nice Middle Grade Historical Magical Realism story, and it’s a series which is already published outside of the US. The sequel is coming out here in April 2014.

        Of course you already know about the Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, and Kane Chronicles series by Rick Riordan since we’ve talked about them before, but I would like to state that golems do feature in the first Heroes of Olympus book.

        John & Carole E. Barrowman’s Hollow Earth series is also really good, featuring art that comes to life, and set in Scotland. It’s also got some nice Doctor Who references since John plays (I remain forever the optimist that he will return!) Captain Jack Harkness.

        The Theodosia series by R.L. LaFevers is also pretty good for a Middle Grade Historical series featuring some Egyptian mythology (not as much as the Kane Chronicles, but still a nice amount).

        Also, have you ever read the Bartimaeus books by Jonathan Stroud? Talking about Jinni made me think of it :)

        And ohmygosh, there are so many others I could tell you about! I think those will do for now, though, and if you want more I can always e-mail you a whole huge list *laughs*

        Both the book and movie are really good, but there are some elements that were created specifically for the movie. I won’t tell you what so as not to spoil either one for you :D

        And I’m still trying to come up with some good questions for you for tonight!!!

        • Hallo Christine,

          I am finally able to properly respond to your lovely recommendations for me!! :) What I am most thankful to see, is that *Magical Realism* is a genre that is not only gaining grounding of interest in reader’s lives, but each of us who are transfixed by the spell of these stories are motivated to seek out more!! :) Yes, I do know of Riordan’s stories (both prior to our conversations & during!), yet I hadn’t realised he included golems! Of course, truth be told, I hadn’t realised they were such a popular creature to include until I did my research which populates this post! :) I hadn’t directly recalled which book you were speaking of (as far as Ms. Webb was concerned) until I clicked over and realised, why yes! That was the story which perked my interest, and I had made a mental note to see if my local library had a copy! Wicked! The bliss for me, is that if I am fortunate to sink into one story which might have been first presumed a one-off, which then, is turnt into a series &/or at least a two-book sequence,… I find my joy is overflowing rather freely! Is this how you feel?!

          Whoa! You captured my ears, heart, eyes, and mind when you said the “Hollow Earth” series leads-in with “Doctor Who” references!! I am seriously a girl in *love!* with all things “Whovian!” nowadays! Who knew, it would only take me until the 50th Anniversary Month to forge the courage to ILL the series!? Laughs. I will have to explore this further!!! I love it when authors find clever and cheeky ways to innovate a methodology of inclusion of pop cultural icons!

          The cover art for the “Theodosia” novels are ringing a familiarity vibe in me, which might conclude I have stumbled across them in the Children’s Literature section of a bookshoppe &/or whilst browsing through my library’s virtual stack of shelves!! In either case, a series rooted in Egyptian mythology is well worth the export adventure in securing a way to read them! :)

          Stroud rings a few bells as well — ahh, yes, this might be the one series I was curious about but wasn’t as certain if I could get into the story arcs!

          Following up with the Qs you proposed to me during my *first!* ever podcast for The Star Chamber Show — pure brilliance! When Charlene and Leanne chimed in their Qs as well, I was properly chuffed that I had such a nice selection to respond back too! I wanted to answer more ‘ON AIR’ but I hadn’t realised there would be as many Qs coming in from Facebook, Twitter, & the chat room for the Chamber itself! Wow. Which is why I tweeted back all my replies past the initial vlogging Q I answered! I hope you were able to see all the responses!!

          You ought to know or perhaps I hadn’t been forthright enough for you to know — I seriously *LOVE!* lists of recommendations for books to read!!

          Email me whenever the inspiration strikes!
          Afterall, I am going to be creating my TBR Jar soon! :)

          Thank you for taking the time to include click-over links!
          Smashingly keen to sneak a peek at the books & authors!

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