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VIRTUAL EVENT: Helene Wecker, The Hidden Palace
June 23, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm PDT
VIRTUAL EVENT: Helene Wecker’s debut novel, The Golem and the Jinni, was a runaway bestseller that snagged multiple awards. Now, after seven years, she is back with a sequel. In this enthralling historical epic, set in New York City and the Middle East in the years leading up to World War I, Wecker revisits her beloved characters Chava and Ahmad as they confront unexpected new challenges in a rapidly changing human world. This event is cosponsored by Temple Beth El.
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Chava is a golem, a woman made of clay, able to hear the thoughts and longings of the people around her and compelled by her nature to help them. Ahmad is a jinni, a perpetually restless and free-spirited creature of fire, imprisoned in the shape of a man. Fearing they’ll be exposed as monsters, these magical beings hide their true selves and pretend to be human—just two more immigrants in the bustling world of 1900s Manhattan. Having encountered each other under calamitous circumstances, Chava and Ahmad’s lives are now entwined—but they’re not yet certain of what they mean to each other.
Each has unwittingly affected the humans around them. Park Avenue heiress Sophia Winston, whose brief encounter with Ahmad left her with a strange illness that makes her shiver with cold, travels to the Middle East to seek a cure. There she meets a tempestuous female jinni who’s been banished from her tribe. Back in New York, in a tenement on the Lower East Side, a little girl named Kreindel helps her rabbi father build a golem they name Yossele—not knowing that she’s about to be sent to an orphanage uptown, where the hulking Yossele will become her only friend and protector.
Spanning the tumultuous years from the turn of the twentieth century to the beginning of World War I, The Hidden Palace follows these lives and others as they collide and interleave. Can Chava and Ahmad find their places in the human world while remaining true to each other? Or will their opposing natures and desires eventually tear them apart—especially once they encounter, thrillingly, other beings like themselves?
Helene Wecker’s debut novel, The Golem and the Jinni, was awarded the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, the VCU Cabell Award for First Novel, and the Harold U. Ribalow Prize, and was nominated for a Nebula Award and a World Fantasy Award. A Midwest native, she holds a B.A. in English from Carleton College and an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from Columbia University. Her work has appeared in literary journals such as Joyland and Catamaran, as well as in the fantasy anthology The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and children.