Saturday, December 7, 2013
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
If you like: destiny * baking * supernatural beings
The Golem and the Jinni tells the story of the unlikely circumstances that bring together several supernatural beings and reveals how their stories have intertwined. Chava, a golem, is a woman made of clay and brought to life just before the untimely death of her husband. She must find a place for herself in a world where she doesn’t belong, keeping her true nature a secret. The Jinni has been trapped in a flask for hundreds of years when he is inadvertently released by a man working to repair it. Bound in his human form and unsure how he came to be trapped, the Jinni is frustrated with his circumstances and cannot rest until he tries to find way to return to his former status. The two meet by happenstance, and slowly begin to understand that their differing origins have much more in common than anticipated.
The Golem and the Jinni take two very different approaches to their survival. By nature, the Golem tends toward modesty and caution. Her potential for violence and destruction cause her to approach every situation with the utmost caution so she does not end up in a position she cannot control. In order to protect herself, she must do her best to blend into the background and hide, all the while being a striking creature that is not easily overlooked. The Jinni is much less discreet. Though he creates a spectacle of equal scale, the nature of society provides fewer rules he must abide. Though the potential danger of being discovered is just as great, the Jinni does not need to worry about losing himself and causing harm if discovered. This allows him to flaunt his otherness and follow his whims around the city. Unlike the Golem, however, the Jinni remembers what it was like to live free of the restraints of life in a modern city, and is all the more pained by this loss.
The Golem and the Jinni is a collection of others, all brought together by the appeal of the new world, and the mystical allure that leads like to attract like. Each character in the story finds that he or she is not like those who live and work around them. For some, this has great benefits, for others it is a daily reminder that costs them just a little extra to be a part of their community. The lack of mutual spirituality sets some apart. For others, the demons that haunt their past prevent them from living in the present. Others are set apart by their very nature. The fear and isolation of being different drives each person differently. Some seek to live behind a disguised personality, and hope to become the person they pretend to be. Others utilize their gifts to exploit those they see as inferior — never using any measure but their own. It is when these separate people come together and form a community that the story truly sings. When each is able to recognize a kindred spirit, and put aside assumptions in order to aid them, the whole neighborhood is better for it. It is difficult to accept that which is so out of the realm of general understanding that it seems like a fantasy. It is only when a person is able to set assumptions aside that learning can take place. Once an individual is ready to learn, they are ready to help, and to create friendship. This bond is what solves problems. Without developing companionship, each person must fight all that haunts them alone. Even the simplest acceptance of accord can be revelatory. Just having someone to share inner thoughts with can ease the burdens of life substantially. Having an ally on your side makes the fight easier to manage. No matter how a person feels he or she may be different than those that surround him or her, once pretense is put aside and a conversation is started common ground is found more often than not.
If you would douse your inner flame to protect your companions, read The Golem and the Jinni.
Wecker, Helene. The Golem and the Jinni. HarperCollins, 2013. Kindle Edition.