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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 (3170 )
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4.5 (2922 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Elkay 02-26-14
    Elkay 02-26-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    151
    ratings
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    103
    48
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    "Perfect"

    Wonderful story, characters, writing and narration. So happy I finally took a chance on this one! This book actually made me wish my commute were longer!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rhonda Hess www.bubblingwell.com 02-20-14
    Rhonda Hess www.bubblingwell.com 02-20-14 Member Since 2011

    Mentor Coach, Author, Coach Trainer

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    106
    6
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    Performance
    Story
    "My favorite novel of all time -- so far"

    Exquisite writing and performance! This book has everything I want:

    Heart
    Intrigue
    Enough (but not too many) rich characters with special skills
    Explorations into the power of relationships and community
    Insider perspectives into diverse cultures and religions
    The complex flavor of New York City
    Historical details
    Magic

    I'm eagerly awaiting for your next book, Helene!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily 02-18-14
    Emily 02-18-14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Witty Macabre Search for Love"

    Fantastically macabre. A dark comedy that touched my heart. Oh how we wonder about the beholder's eyes and thoughts....and words spoken as we turn our backs. What can protect us from getting rip apart by that cruelty? Solitude? Magic? Violence? Kindness from others?
    Welcome to New York all you misfits and strangers. Enjoy!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rodrigo Braz Urbana-Champaign, IL 02-17-14
    Rodrigo Braz Urbana-Champaign, IL 02-17-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Pretty good, a bit too long, missing something"

    The book describes a 1899 world in which Golems and Jinnis actually exist. It does a good job at making that interesting and believable, and also paints a good picture of the historical time. It is quite poetic at times.

    The main characters are a little shallow, a little flat (the Golem more than the Jinni). I expected to see some sort of spiritual quest, some development in which they learn how to cope with their own nature, some greater significance in their actions, but the story follows more like a sequence of haphazard events, although it does get a little better at the end.

    At points the books is too long and slow. I love long books but in this one there were parts in which nothing much was actually happening, to the point that listening to it felt a bit like work.

    The narrator performance is very good; he gave very distinct voices to each character and he had this unusual cadence that made his sentences very interesting.

    I am still glad I read it but I was expecting a really top-notch book given all the raving reviews.

    POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD:

    Even though there is a suggestion all along that the Jinni and the Golem will fall in love, there is no romance chemistry in between them. The only thing they share is being mythical creatures in 1899 New York and they *do* have a lot of *friendship* chemistry, but the idea that they would fall in love was very unconvincing to me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cher Holt-Fortin 02-17-14

    grinchymom

    ratings
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    17
    2
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    "Fantastic Fantasy"
    If you could sum up The Golem and the Jinni in three words, what would they be?

    Fascinating. Well-wriiten. Satisfying.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Golem and the Jinni?

    Too many to list. The book is full of arcane information, good characters, and an excellent plot.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter and Katherine 02-16-14 Member Since 2012

    Adventure and suspense please!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyable listen"
    Any additional comments?

    I'm a fan of George Guidall as a narrator. This performance was even better than some of his others. The story was an engaging character study with a touch of magic. At its heart it is an unusual and believable love story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jazmin burnaby, bc, Canada 02-11-14
    jazmin burnaby, bc, Canada 02-11-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Book!"

    I was skeptical about this book at first but wow I didn't need to be! It is a great story the kind I often look for with a nice dose of the fantastic mixed with a real life timeline. Grab yourself a copy I am sure you will enjoy it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marjorie Santa Rosa, CA, United States 02-07-14
    Marjorie Santa Rosa, CA, United States 02-07-14 Member Since 2015

    I enjoy literary fiction with character depth and psychological exploration. I am in my 50s, work in psychology, and love the outdoors.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    80
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    "It Has Potential"

    This book was narrated well though the reader's voice, at times, seemed awfully slow. I found that the author got into too much extraneous detail which left me feeling bored and, sometimes, lost. The story includes many characters and it was difficult to track who was who. There were parts of this book that I enjoyed very much but then it would wander off into some long and tedious side-story during which time I would get lost and wonder what the heck and who the heck the author was writing about. This book is creative in its use of mystical creatures who live out human lives in the early 20th century of New York City. Overall, there were many good ideas here but the story did not hold my interest throughout and I found myself wishing it would come to an end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frederick L. Chambers 01-30-14 Member Since 2011

    Book of Days

    ratings
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    "Did not disappoint!"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Golem and the Jinni?

    The collision of characters at the end of the book. Brilliantly done.


    What does George Guidall bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    A believable New York immigrant accent. His narration sounds as if different characters are played by different people.


    Any additional comments?

    I found myself as enthralled with this story and its characters as I have when reading some of the great literature classics. It's just that elegant. I can't believe this is a first novel. But then again how incredibly inspiring that it is.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert 01-25-14
    Robert 01-25-14 Member Since 2014
    ratings
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    12
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    "Urban Paranormal with a curveball"
    What did you like best about this story?

    I enjoyed the aspect of the Golem and the Jinni learning to live in the city, their entire line of development as characters and the background information on many side characters was very well done and made this book a nonstop read through... listen through?


    What does George Guidall bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    For me, it was the proper pronunciation of names and places. Many times I have read a series only to get to see a movie or listen to an audio version and find out I had mispronounced many peoples name.


    Any additional comments?

    Attention to detail is a very big strong point of this authors style, so if you are looking for a book you could literally sink your teeth into, then try it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 151-160 of 226 results PREVIOUS115161723NEXT
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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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