Saturday, October 5, 2013
"The Golem and the Jinni" by Helene Wecker
I'm back at school, teaching two new classes, and that takes a huge chunk of my time. I'm teaching AP Language for the first time, and it scares me. I so desperately want my students to do well--they're good kids and they're talented--and I'm constantly worrying I'm not preparing them sufficiently. Come May I'll have a "grade" of how well I've done for the first time. I don't want to fail.
I've also taken up the position of drama coordinator at my school. I don't direct the plays, but I am at every rehearsal every day. The phrase "herding cats" has only really come true for me for the first time with high school drama. It's exhausting, even though I'm mostly an observer.
I'm still attempting to work out four times a week, something I've done the past year. I went once this past week.
C'est la vie. Time for books.
The Golem and the Jinni was a solid book for me. Entertaining plot and characters, plenty enjoyable, but without that spark of style to the writing that makes it memorable.
Wecker brings together two myths--the Jewish golem and the middle-Eastern jinni--in early 20th century New York. The blending of three cultures (Jewish, Syrian, and American) only works because golem Chava and jinni Ahmad are so similar--beings of great power constrained by the ordinariness of human life. They're connected in another important way, though it would be spoiling the novel to say in what manner. Wecker does a good job of conveying their otherness: Chava's literal inability to relax or Ahmad's perpetual claustrophobia.
The best parts of the book involve Chava and Ahmad's developing relationship, but there are great moments with their human friends, from the rabbi who takes in Chava to the tinsmith who teaches Ahmad his trade.
The book is somewhat lengthy and drags a bit in the middle before coming to a roaring conclusion. There aren't any great descriptions or lyrical prose, but it's a good, character-driven light fantasy worthy of a read.