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The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel | [Helene Wecker]

The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel

Helene Wecker's dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York. Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York Harbor. Ahmad is a jinni, 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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, April 2013 - The Golem and the Jinni delivers the glimpses into the past that make historical fiction so satisfying, combined with the power of well-told fantasy. New York at the dawn of the 20th century is a city teeming with life as newly-arrived immigrants find their footing in an unfamiliar land. This cultural melting pot is manifested in the story's two titular characters: the golem, a figure from Jewish myth, and the jinni, a spirit from Arabian folklore. The two creatures - normally bidden to serve human masters -find themselves unmoored by circumstances and with no one to serve. Their chance meeting begets an unforgettable journey through the lovingly-crafted city, and provides an outsider's perspective on both the mundane and transcendent in the human experience. Even if fantasy isn't normally in your wheelhouse, this incredible premise – paired with George Guidall’s performance - is sure to deliver. —Michael, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Finalist, Fiction, 2014

Helene Wecker's dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York. Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York Harbor. Ahmad is a jinni, 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.

Struggling to make their way in this strange new place, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their neighbors while masking their true natures. Surrounding them is a community of immigrants: the coffeehouse owner Maryam Faddoul, a pillar of wisdom and support for her Syrian neighbors; the solitary ice cream maker Saleh, a damaged man cursed by tragedy; the kind and caring Rabbi Meyer and his beleaguered nephew, Michael, whose Sheltering House receives newly arrived Jewish men; the adventurous young socialite Sophia Winston; and the enigmatic Joseph Schall, a dangerous man driven by ferocious ambition and esoteric wisdom.

Meeting by chance, the two creatures become 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 menace will soon bring the Golem and the Jinni together again, threatening their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

Marvelous and compulsively listenable, The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of folk mythology, historical fiction, and magical fable into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

©2013 Helene Wecker (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (5682 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Diane White Horse Beach, MA, United States 06-28-15
    Diane White Horse Beach, MA, United States 06-28-15 Member Since 2011
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    16
    4
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    "Romantic and Awesome"

    narrator nails it. this book was made to be listened to. it takes me away like print used to

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendy 06-28-15
    Wendy 06-28-15 Member Since 2014
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    REVIEWS
    6
    1
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    Story
    "Easy to get caught up in the story"

    Really enjoyed this audio book; a story the family can enjoy. Definitely recommend and is suitable for youngish ears.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frank S. Saltiel 06-27-15 Member Since 2010
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    3
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    "Engaging story"

    Fascinating story mixing ancient folklore in new and interesting manner. Character development is rich and enjoyable.
    Excellent performance by narrator!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael 06-26-15
    Michael 06-26-15 Member Since 2014
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    122
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    "Masterfully Written"

    As a history teacher I could easily picture Gilded Age New York and with that the story truly came to life. This is one of the few book I have ever read that I'm sad I've finished, because I didn't want the story to ever come to an end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cyril John May 06-23-15
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    1
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    "Golem+Jinni=Magic"

    Helene Wecker's novel is a well-written trip both historical and magical. Her delightful description transports you to turn-of-the-century New York, and beyond. Her characters and plot are impossibly, and most enjoyably, realistic and fantastic all at once.

    George Guidall brings this all to life as only a veteran actor and storyteller can... With artistry and magic of his own.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DiDi Rulison Illinois, USA 06-23-15
    DiDi Rulison Illinois, USA 06-23-15 Member Since 2011

    Tell us about yourself!

    ratings
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    146
    3
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    "Wonderful Story!!!!!"

    Absolutely Loved this book. I cannot wait until the next book.... please please please let there be many more adventures for these two wonderful characters. This is one of the most delightful and fun books I've had the pleasure of reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lucas Newton, MA United States 06-23-15
    Lucas Newton, MA United States 06-23-15
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    2
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    "Thumbs Up"

    Very fine story, expertly written & read. Rich in metaphor and allegory, but very subtly. Narration was enjoyable throughout.

    I can see this appealing to many types of readers, especially those that have read and enjoyed Neil Gaiman.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 06-21-15 Member Since 2006
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    REVIEWS
    1
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    "Loved it!"

    Still a favoriteafter more than 15 years of Audible membership. I still listen. to it at least once a year.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara United States 06-20-15
    Barbara United States 06-20-15 Member Since 2007
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    121
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    4
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    "Not for Me!"

    I bought this for the reviews and listened for several hours...finding it was too unbelievable - even knowing it was fantasy....just too much! Too slow and too blah..... Also, even though the narrator was well known, I found I couldn't listen to the voice a minute longer!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shane McAlester, ok, United States 06-19-15
    Shane McAlester, ok, United States 06-19-15 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
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    "Very refreshing and captivating."
    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Golem and the Jinni?

    The performance was absolutely amazing. I was blown away.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I found myself looking forward to each chance I had to listen.


    Any additional comments?

    I was completely surprised by this book. It was very well done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Bibliophile
    Germany
    6/21/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating magical tale"
    What did you like most about The Golem and the Jinni?

    „The Golem and the Jinni“ is one of those rare books that completely draws you into its world. In her first published novel Helene Wecker creates a magical setting, beginning at the turn of the century in Poland and then she brings New York and its inhabitants to life. Combined with old Arabian and Jewish folk tales, she had me hooked until the last page was read – at the same time wishing for a magical book that would never end.

    Two mystical beings live among humans, trying to survive without being notice, blend in but not lose themselves. Chava (= life) is a golem and was created by rabbi in Poland who liked meddling with the dark arts, is “curious and intelligent”, as her master had requested. Ahmad is a fire jinni who was trapped in an old copper flask, released by chance in New York but is still bound by an old spell.

    Both do not really fit into human society and often feel lonely, especially at night when nearly everyone around them is asleep. Surrounding them is a colourful mix of all classes of New York’s society at that time.

    Chava was created to serve, to please her master. Unfortunately he already died on the voyage to New York, or maybe fortunately for her? She herself is never certain, because her unusual intelligence and perceptiveness for human needs put her into a permanent vicious circle. There is one episode when she tries to find out what “money” is, as this must be more important to humans than everything else….

    And this explains one of the reasons why I was so fascinated with this book. It is a moving tale of two outsiders who can never really fit in. Who look at our human society from a totally different angle. Who must make their way in a world totally foreign to them, even more than to all the other immigrants coming to New York. Both are very different from us humans and in some ways not so very different at all. They could live forever – but they want to do so? Chava yearns for a master, the jinni for freedom. She was made of clay, feels cold to the touch, he was created of fire and has a fierce temper, too.

    The other figures show other facets of human life, a kind old rabbi, a vicious magus, a young woman from New York’s high society, a bedouin girl and her father… The tale of each figure is told with utmost sensitivity, letting all of them come to life and stay in my memory for a long time.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    Some elements reminded me of the books by Deborah Harkness who also expertly lets her magical beings move in our human world, creating characters that seem like real persons after a few chapters.

    “The Golem and the Jinni” is one of the best stories I have read in a long time, with magical and oh so human characters, letting me walk the streets of a long vanished New York and wishing them all the happiness in the world. A magical, moving, sometimes humours tale. I hope Helene Wecker will continue writing and look forward to reading her next novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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