It’s no surprise that Helene Wecker’s first novel, The Golem and the Jinni, won the 2014 Harold U. Ribalow prize. This adult fairy tale reminds the reader of the works of Kafka or Isaac Bashevis Singer. At turns it is funny but it can be dark. The Golem (Chava) is a creature made out of clay and the Jinni (Ahmad), born of fire, has been trapped inside a copper flask for many generations. It’s 1899 in New York City with a focus on the streets and rooftops of Manhattan. Immigrants abound.
Jonathan Carroll’s work is often described as magic realism, but I think Neil Gaiman said it best by stating that reading Carroll is “as if John Updike were to write a Philip K Dick novel.”
Carroll’s book packs in a lot of different stories and details, often mixed together. The very pages of the book are thin; the smoky images at the head of each chapter visible through the following pages.