July 29, 2014

The Golem and the Jinni

by Helene Wecker

As the 1890’s draw to a close, many immigrants leave Eastern Europe and the Western Asia and land at Ellis Island. One of these happens to be a golem, masterfully constructed by a Polish hermit to serve as the wife of a furniture heir who wants to emigrate and who can’t manage to find a wife in the usual way. When the fellow dies at sea, the golem is left adrift; at Ellis Island, she is three days old.

Meanwhile, a nice Syrian woman runs a coffee house in the lower East Side. As a parting gift, her mother gave her an old but well-made copper oil flask. It’s dented and worn, and she sends it to the local tinsmith for repairs. As is often the case in such matters, there was a stowaway in the flask.

This sets the stage for a nice sentimental romance of Old New York. It might be a bit too long –it’s a long novel and it might have been just as effective as a short story – but it’s very pleasant indeed. Thanks Derek Van Ittersum!