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
This book shows what it is like to become human from both a cautious and rebellious standpoint with a brilliant tale and in depth cast. A must read.
Golem (Hanna) the best hero of her age.
Splendid narration. A quiet delivery with nuiance voice. Very engrossing.
All is not as it seems.
Total enjoyment with the book. From start to finish. Author has excellent use of word and phrase and the intent is captured by the superb narrator. Really a great experience.
Guidall's reading performance is as greag as ever. Helene Wecker has crafted a truly unique tale of fantasy, magic and a bit of romance in the multi ethnic ghettos of early twentieth century New York.
I love fantasy literature, and so rarely does a fantasy book delve into deep issues, but this book did (and did so successfully). Never before have two non-human characters so accurately analyzed what it means to be human. This book is truly in a class of it's own. Set against a historical backdrop, these two characters form a unique connection. I'm hesitant to say more, so I'll just say that this book is fantastic. Thought-provoking, philosophical, and so much more. It's the kind of book that stays with you days after you're done reading it. A must-read!
I liked the characters, and it was a look into rash decisions and there consequences, while trying to explore life.
One of the best books I've read, and probably the best audiobook performance I've listened to. A perfect blend of character-ficused realism and subtle plot-driven soeculative fiction.
A thoroughly enjoyable story, this audio delight had me listening to the detriment of my own productivity. The author's cultural knowledge interwove the characters' lives so beautiful, and of course a genius finish. The performer's voices had me feeling as though I'd befriended the characters themselves. Though it left a little to be desired with regard to certain thematic developments, I admit my own bias may color this particular aspect. All in all, such a delightful story to get lost in- a million years could pass by and I'd hardly be aware.
Absolutely loved this book! I expected fantasy with fantastical things, but this is more about people. Learning who one is and how they fit into the world.
Someone who loves to read and takes so much time to read he feels guilty. Oh, wait, maybe that's because I was raised Catholic.
I wish it hadn't ended. Great narration and a mystical story exploring ancient mythologies. Enjoyed it thoroughly.
avid reader and writer of speculative fiction...
The narrator's voice was soothing, but still lively. Definitely lent to the magical, ethereal atmospheric quality that (I believe) the author was trying to capture.
The story is about a golem and a jinni, who are both magical creatures, living amongst normal, familiar, non-magical people in early 20th century NYC. I expected the focus of the writer to be in explaining the worlds of the magical beings. Instead, through the eyes of the golem and jinni, what is explained to you is the inner workings of immigrant culture in the early 20th century... which is a subject I'm already pretty well-versed in. It is well written, but it never really pulled me in and made me want to keep going. I expected a little more magic, and a little less everyday life.
His embodiment of different characters was great-- somehow, without over the top impressions, raising the tone of his voice to a squeak to impersonate women, etc, he lent a different voice to each character in a way that made it very easy to follow what was going on, even if I wasn't entirely focused on listening.
No... moved a bit too slow, didn't seem to have a driving force in the story, probably because of the split protagonist.
The narrators voice was really pleasant... unfortunately the lack of spark in the story meant that, more than once, his narration lulled me to sleep...
"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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