book list · fantasy

Spotlight #5: Djinn

As a fan of fantasy literature, it’s also important to recognise the cultural roots of mythological beings. The writing podcast with Sami Shah and Nadia Niaz highlights the place djinn has in Muslim mythology from the perspective of writers who grew up with these stories. The following books below are layered stories which acknowledge these roots.

Diversity Spotlight (hosted by Aimal) will take place every Thursday, and it will be featuring three books in any given week:

B R I N G I N G M U S I CT O Y O U R E A R S (4)

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Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a djinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem and the Djinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

The Golem and the Djinni (The Golem and the Jinni #1) by Helene Wecker

I enjoyed The Golem and the Djinni due to the diasporic focus, challenges and the layers to belonging for these supernatural creatures. The story is a little more focused on Chava, the golem (a being that is prominent in Jewish literature). Though I also liked how Ahmad, the djinn brought in another perspective to the diasporic experience.

I want to re-read it in the near future due to the upcoming sequel but I lent my copy to a friend who was looking for more fiction with Jewish characters. The sequel will be released next year, so I’m excited to catch up on their adventures.

B R I N G I N G M U S I CT O Y O U R E A R S (5)

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Some have called them genies: these are the Djinn. And they are everywhere. On street corners, behind the wheel of a taxi, in the chorus, between the pages of books. Every language has a word for them. Every culture knows their traditions. Every religion, every history has them hiding in their dark places. There is no part of the world that does not know them.

They are the Djinn. They are among us.

With stories from: Nnedi Okorafor, Neil Gaiman, Helene Wecker, Amal El-Mohtar, Catherine King, Claire North,  E.J. Swift, Hermes (trans. Robin Moger), Jamal Mahjoub, James Smythe, J.Y. Yang, Kamila Shamsie, Kirsty Logan, K.J. Parker, Kuzhali Manickavel, Maria Dahvana Headley, Monica Byrne, Saad Hossein, Sami Shah, Sophia Al-Maria and Usman Malik.

The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories by Mahvesh Murad (Editor), Jared Shurin

I’m hoping my library will pick this collection of short stories up. I seem to be reading more speculative fiction anthologies lately. I just love diving into short fiction.  I first heard about the possibility of this anthology on the podcast – Midnight in Karachi. I’m also a fan of a few of the contributing writers but eager to read stories from the writers I haven’t heard about yet too.

B R I N G I N G M U S I CT O Y O U R E A R S (6)

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Journeying to the world of djinns was never going to be easy; Wahid just didn’t know it would be this hard. Is his travelling companion – the Devil called Iblis – a worthy friend, or a sinister enemy? And what manner of underworld beast will assault them next as they look for the soul of Maheen? Whatever the answers are, Wahid sure isn’t in Karachi anymore. And if he fails, we will all fall to the coming of … Dajjal.

Earth Boy takes the fast pace of Fire Boy up a notch, delivering a stunning climax but also a meditation on what it means to grow up.

Expected publication: April 1st 2017 by Fantastica

Earth Boy (Djinn-Son Duology #2) by Sami Shah

The only reason why I haven’t reviewed the first book Fire Boy is because I was drowning under assignments at the time. Though the sequel is coming out in a few days, so I’ll be re-reading Fire Boy and hopefully sharing more thoughts on the blog. The first book is a thrilling young adult urban fantasy/horror novel set in contemporary Pakistan. It is a compelling read which revolves around the impact djinn can have on human lives. I can’t wait to find out what happens to Wahid in Earth Boy.

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