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
Beautiful, brilliant, and deep
This is one of my all-time favorite books I've listened to, on every level.
Helene writes a nice story, but I like more "meat" in my reads. George is fabulous.
Would have liked more thought provoking passages.
George is versatile and believable. I will choose a book because he reads it. The Longmeyer series has me hooked.
perhaps look into a book that has more substantial information about Kabbbalah.
It's a nice romantic tale. A pleasant read. I just like to be pushed to think more, question more.
imaginative, other-worldly, magical
The author (and narrator) do an amazing job of creating these other worlds for you to step in to on so many levels - whether it's turn of the century New York, the deserts of Syria, or the internal worlds of the Golem or the Jinni.
His voice is just so pleasant and he does a great job of creating a light but distinctive accent or voice for each character it just brings the story to life
yes/no - I felt emotionally engaged w/the characters and what was happening to them - but it was also just a pleasant story to escape into
Each character had such a unique and perfectly suited accent and cadence, it was such a pleasure to listen. Of course, excellent narration won't save a boring story! This is so full of complex historical details, I was swooning with joy. I come from Eastern European Jewish background, and have middle Eastern friends, and the insights and second thoughts and prayers seemed so very believable. Thank you so much, can hardly wait to hear your next book.
I normally don't write negative reviews. But when I saw this as one of the years best I had to speak up. This book rambles and was totally frustrating, in fact it has made me mistrusting of reviews period. I kept listening and listening and waiting and waiting for this book to take off until I simply could not stand it. The narrator was good but even he couldn't save this book. The basic idea had promise but the story rambles with no solid focus, at least the first half did after that I stopped listening.
long commute=audible reading time
I love historical fiction, and the Golem and the Jinni was particularly good - a fresh take on the intersection of cultures in America in early 1900's as waves of immigrants make their way to New York.
It is a great story, love story and the characters are wonderful and unique.
I kept listening to this story eagerly, as the author lays out a lot of groundwork for each character. However, I felt , that for all that background not much developed. It is well written but left me wanting more....maybe the Jinnie and Golum book 2? The author paints a lovely scene I just wanted to stay there.
Outstanding book that had me hooked from the get go. I would highly recommend this book.
Very different from what I usually read.
The understanding of how the two main characters are entwined.
Golem and Jinni
Slow beginning for me, however, the story pulls you in and you just keep listening because then you start to wonder "how in the world is this going to end?". Definitely has an "aha" moment. I enjoyed it and now my husband is listening to it.
Avid reader 5 to 10 books a month. I like urban fantasy and Sci-Fi the most. I do enjoy a bio every now and then.
This book is very different. A bit hard to stick with at first but worth the effort. It follows the lives of a Golum ( clay person who comes to life) and a Geni. Though a lot of hardships their paths cross and they help each other overcome the obstacles that threaten them. Great history of NYC, makes you feel like you were there.
"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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