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
Best story I've heard in some time. Believable characters which move deftly within a remarkable plot.
201400320 ◊ This book was simply lovely. The story features two impossible creatures, who live and meet in New York City circa 1899. The worlds they inhabit - both past and present - are lovingly and skillfully described by first-time author Helene Wecker. The plot follows the personal stories of many fascinating characters; the way their lives unfold and intertwine is well-paced, sometimes surprising, and always satisfying. I was looking for a solid, enjoyable, one-off story to read after having finished making my way through a long-slog seven-book series; The Golem and the Jinni fit the bill perfectly. I can't think of anyone to whom I wouldn't recommend this book! Skillful narration of the audiobook by George Guidall made this an easy and enjoyable listen.
I am not good at taking time to answer all the questions they have here about why I liked this book but I will say this, I Loved the writing style, word usage, the suspense that was built and the pulling upon my curiosity. I was drawn in and intrigued.
The narrator was incredible, so yes, I think the narrated version has to be superior to the print version, though both are very good.
One of my very favorite moments in the story is the moment the Golem first meets the Jinni. It's such a great illustration of their different characters, and you can really feel the fascination with encountering something so foreign, yet so similar to themselves.
My favorite scene is probably when the two come back together again. I hesitate to give too much detail because of spoilers, but when the Golem reunites with the Jinni and the time directly proceeding that is just an awesome moment.
I have been slowly and steadily building my library primarily with books I already know and wanted to listen to. This book by itself has completely changed that strategy: it is a book I had never heard of, and it is easily my favorite book in my entire library. I'll be much more adventurous going forward, all because of how fantastic this book is.
I felt this book would be different from the title. I do pick stories by title or by well known authors. But right off the bat it peaked my interest. A mud or clay person acting as if a human and a selfish jinni. How could anyone think to put two less likely characters together. When you read it, I couldn't wait to find out where this story was going to take me. It is worth the experience.
Of course the Character of the Golem. She is slow and steady. She never waivers her convictions. She is helpful and friendly. She cares in her own way. It amazes me why everyone falls for her but knowing how she was created was part of the fun about her.
I could picture the scenes and characters in my mind. His voice was soothing and fit in with how i felt the characters would speak if they did. His tone and inflection was right on. He knew the story and presented it how it should have been done.
I was willing to break it up so I could have time with it. I was interested enough to keep coming back to hear how it would turn out. I loved the way the characters stayed in character and didn't really change their personalities for anyone or anything. The development of the friendship and movement of the story keeps the listener, listening.
I am so glad that the end was complete and the story didn't hang at the end. It was completed. I loved the doctor that was cured even though his life was short. I loved it that all the little pieces were wrapped up in the end.
The conflict and awkward friendship between Chava and Amed, is universal. It doesn't matter that they are fantastical creatures, they are as real as you and I.
The final scene in the book is both heart wrenching and glorious. A satisfying and thoughtful end to a beautiful story.
Guidall disappears within the story, there are no false steps in his performance.
The Rabbi who discovers Chava has all the emotion, doubt, angst of a real person in his situation.
Everything connects, nothing stands out and feels wrong. This has become my favorite book and will listen to it again without a doubt.
It's a thoroughly enchanting story and so beautifully written. The craftsmanship alone of Ms Wecker's writing makes it 5-star worthy. But it's not just the great writing and wonderful narration by the incomparable George Guidall, it's a story that is so touching and poignant it really stays with you long after. The story asks and answers so many questions. What is the basis of true love (seeing the other for who they truly are; the ability to be yourself with someone else?). Why do people need religion? Did God create man or did man create God? Does it matter? A thoroughly satisfying listen in every way.
Say something about yourself!
Awesome, engrossing, fascinating
George Guidall is my FAVORITE narrator. He is why I chose this book, and as always, he was superb!
I really enjoyed this book, thought it was very well written, each character was well defined and the narration was spot on!
This is wonderful storytelling. There are many interesting elements all expertly woven and beautifully read. A plot that is hard to predict; great characters; romance; mystery; magic; charming moments; sad moments; reflective and philosophical moments; historical color; and more!
I read and listen to books. I drink tea. I sleep like a cat and wished I lived in Hawaii.
This book was a fairytale to me, a very adult and gotham fairytale. I loved the story of the golem more at first, but as the story went on I became very entranced in the jinni also. For 2 characters that are not of this world, one made of fire (the jinni) and one made of clay (the golem), they possess many human characteristics. Chava, the golem, is a creature made of clay to resemble a human woman. She is made to be bound by a master, but her master dies soon after she is brought to life on a boat bound for New York. Ahmad, the jinni, is a being who is able to change forms, but is trapped as a male human by a wizard and locked in a flask. He is accidentally set free by a New York tinsmith, but doomed to remain in human form. Chava and Ahmad struggle to live amongst humans while keeping the secrets of their identities. Few know the truth of where they came from. Eventually they cross paths, each sensing an un-humanness the other possesses. Wecker introduces many other interesting characters that add layers to make this a complex story that is rich in imagery. As a reader, I felt the grittiness of the city and the strange qualities of the golem and the jinni to be so real. I read that the author spent 7 years researching this book and it shows in the details of the city and it's immigrants. The historical fiction aspect of this book did not disappoint.
I am not a huge fan of fantasy books. In fact, I usually avoid them unless they are getting outstanding reviews. To me, this book was worth all the hype. I found the protagonists to be strange and likable and I ultimately cared about what happened to them. I have read other reviews in which readers have said the book needed some editing because it was too long and maybe this is true, but I didn't find myself getting bored at all. I was captivated. This is the first time that I tried Whispersync and I found it to be a great tool, esp. for this longer book. Also, George Guidall did not disappoint, he was an excellent narrator and I look forward to listening to more of him in the future.
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