In Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni (Harper, April), two supernatural beings, one from the Jewish tradition and one from the Arab tradition, meet in turn-of-the-century New York. Says executive editor Terry Karten, who acquired the manuscript from Sam Stoloff at the Frances Goldin Literary Agency, says, “I fell head over heels for the Golem and the Jinni. They become more and more human as the novel progresses, while remaining true to their respective natures: one, a creature of clay, and the other, a creature of fire. How exciting to find a novel that pushes the boundaries of literary fiction and challenges the limits of genre—while remaining compulsively readable.” The debut will have a 75,000-copy first printing.
Wecker, who holds an M.F.A. from Columbia and currently lives in San Francisco, reports that it took her seven years to craft her debut, influenced by Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (Random House, 2000) and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell (Bloomsbury, 2004). She recalls, “I’d been writing a series of short stories, linked tales from three generations of my family and my husband’s family. I’m Jewish and he’s Arab-American. But they weren’t coming together—I was too close to the material, and some of it was just too fresh. A friend of mine knew that I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, and she suggested I try something other than straight realism. The historical setting was a product of my research: it seemed most likely that these two would meet in turn-of-the-century New York, in the heyday of Jewish and Syrian immigration.”