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
The characters and the clever plot. I like historical fiction and also fantasy and magical realism, so this book was right up my alley. This is my new favorite book. I also liked the ending.
This was the first. The narration is a little one note but still easy to listen to and at generally very well done. The narrator kept a good pace and added just the right amount of drama. He also allowed the story to build in tempo as I think the author intended.
I loved this book, and the magical adventure that took the reader through time and space from deserts to big cities, and tied together several plot threads with finesse.
good story very well written but doesn't pick up till the last few chapters. I would recommend but you have to put the time in to get to the payoff.
General fiction, mystery & thrillers, epic fantasy, and paranormal: pure escapism!
Had trouble getting into this book... tried the audio version instead and was surprised to find I really enjoyed it! One of the cases where a good narrator makes a big difference!
well crafted and different from any book I have read before. The POV shifts fluidly between characters, and gives the story a feel of organic growth - it goes where it needs to at a pace of it's own choosing. very enjoyable and unique story.
I enjoy mysteries, science fiction, Stephen King, and some fantasy novels. Now and again I like a biography and a bit of history. No romance!
This book kept getting better and better. The further into it that I listened, more I enjoyed it. I was sad to reach the end. Filled with Wonderful, rich, characters in impossible circumstances, and yet the author and the reader bring them to life. I loved the performance and would gladly listen to him read other books. As for the author, she is new to me but I plan to locate other novels by her if any yet exist. I love the way this story takes New York City and populates it with the average and the unheard of. I highly recommend this.
Not a fan of George Guidall. He does a poor job as differentiating characters and lacks emotion queues. The story itself was set up for potential, but it's energy petered out to less than a fizzle near the end. The closing of the story was anticlimactic and highly disappointing.
I loved this story! I just couldn't stop listening! I didn't want it to end! Very entertaining story, wish she would write a sequel!
Terrific story and an outstanding performance. Mr Guidall's voice is perfect for the book.
The story telling moves slowly through the early parts, but is rewarding in the end.
"Fascinating magical tale"
„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.
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.
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