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 story took a while to really pick up, but once it did I didn't want it to end. It is subtle and slightly sad, but beautifully written. The narration was excellent and easy to listen to. I picked this up on a whim, knowing very little about the story and nothing about the author, but I'm glad I added it to my library.
Achingly beautiful and full of the nostalgia of imagined times past. It has the mesmerizing authenticity and lush vividness of the best of dreams. This is one to be savored.
I enjoyed the story; it had a fair balance between the Old World mythology of the protagonists and their struggles adapting to the 'New World' of life in New York City.
I was dubious about the book's topic at first, but the story is told so well that I changed my mind. I did not want the story to end.
Super creative and fun. One of the best historical fiction books ever. It was a leap of faith at first but the plot hit home. In the end it was charming and reflective on many rich cultural levels.
Helene Wecker has created an amazing world of magic and the real. The setting of late 19th Century New York is painstakingly painted for the reader, and her supernatural characters felt all too human. The story languished in the middle, but a thrilling conclusion washed that away.
George Guidall is excellent as the audiobook narrator. Sometimes his female voices were a little too airy, but overall his performance dripped with pathos.
A fantastical tale of two magical beings finding each other in old New York. Read!
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