Welcome to the first ever Savvy Reader Book Club with Vikki and Kaitlyn! We are dedicated to enriching your book club experience. Here you will find discussion questions, reviews, supplementary material and some fun extras to make your book club the coolest club on the block! Our first pick is The Golem and the Jinni by debut author Helene Wecker.
What Makes The Golem and the Jinni a good book club choice?
“This book gets compared to magical realism titles but to me this was a fascinating historical portrait of New York City in 1899. It felt more like an immigrant story than anything else. The immigrants just happen to be mythical creatures. It sparks a interesting debate about genre and expectation.” Vikki
“After a long week, The Golem and the Jinni was the perfect book to accompany me on a weekend away. Although I was really curled up on a couch in an old cottage in Northern Ontario, I felt transported back to New York City, 1899, and lost in a world of Syrian and Arabian mythology. Few books have allowed me the escape The Golem and the Jinni did. It was perfect, albeit short on some hand-churned ice cream.” Kaiti
Here are some discussion questions to get your conversation started…
1. Compare the Golem and the Jinni’s origins. How are their personalities reflected in their origins?
2. How do the Golem and the Jinni make each other better beings?
3. Why do you think Helene Wecker chose to set the story in turn-of-the-century New York?
Click here for more questions.
Author Insights can also provide some interesting discussion topics:
“I was researching Little Syria, and I found an article in the New-York Daily Tribune written in 1892. One of the illustrations was of a man in a turban, sitting in front of a wooden churn. The caption was “An Ice-Cream Seller.” I thought, who is that guy? And suddenly I knew. I wrote his backstory in one long, frenzied session. It felt like an unlooked-for gift.” -Helene Wecker
Click here for more from a Q&A with Helene Wecker
Reviews provide interesting food for thought.
Find a statement that you agree or disagree with, and present it to the group for discussion. Here are some recent reviews of The Golem and the Jinni:
No book club is complete without some good Book Club Eats:
Wecker’s descriptive prose is so lovely and sensual we found ourselves alternately craving the hand-churned ice cream from Saleh’s cart and the delicious pastries made by Chava.
Supplementary Reading Material
If you liked reading about historical New York: The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld by Herbert Asbury; The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton and The Alienist by Caleb Carr all capture the same era in New York.
If you are interested in more magical realism: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern; Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark; The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski are other classic works of magical realism.
If you want to read more about Arabian and Jewish Mythology: The Arabian Nights: Tales From a Thousand and One Nights is the classic book of folktales; The Golem by Gustav Meyrink; Syrian Folktales by Muna Imady.
For more ideas, stop by our Golem and the Jinni pinterest board or discuss with us on Twitter. We’ll be discussing The Golem and the Jinni all month, so join in! Follow us @SavvyReader and use the hashtag #SRBC. Can’t wait to hear what you guys think!
Next month, we’ll be reading The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley and you have a chance to WIN a set for you and your book club! Follow the instructions below. If you’re not on twitter, leave a comment on the blog post or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name.
Happy Reading, Savvy Readers!