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 story, well narrated. The characters are well developed, as is the sense of time and place. An original story. Didn't want to stop listening.
Wonderful, original story. You can very pleasantly lose yourself and escape into this one... Don't hesitate! One of the best credits Iv ever spent!
What an amazing and unique story. I was so captivated by all the characters. The book was very satisfying and I love George Guidall's narration. I didn't want the story to end. I wanted to hear more about the fascinating Golem and Jinni exploring their world.
This is a story I will come back to year after year. The idea of a jinni and golem "immigrants" trying to inconspicuously carve out work-a-day lives in turn of the century New York City, is an intriging storyline in its own right. Despite being supernatural, the hero and heroine are charmingly relatable as they cope with emotional and moral conflicts surrounded and aided by rich and sometimes quirky secondary characters a misfit would want to befriend. The author crafts an intriguing backstory based on factual history of America's immigrant culture and also what seems to be her own imaginitive expansion on mysterious middle eastern folklore that feels satisfyingly plausible. The story's backbone is in the richness of even the most minor characters - somehow they find much joy and achievement despite tragedy and a grueling day to day life.
Narration is spot on as well.
This is not the type of book I normally read, but it was incredibly well written and that kept me entertained throughout. This was more a story of human nature and what it means to be human rather than your prototypical sci-fi/fantasy novel. The narrator was excellent and I often found myself lost in his portrail of the characters.
I most definitely recommend this to anyone and everyone, regardless of genre preferences. I especially recommend this book to lovers of fantasy, legends, myths, and fairy tales. With a beautiful writing style, Wecker recreates turn of the century New York like a masterwork painting with varied and dynamic characters.
I loved the strong characterizations throughout this book. Each character, regardless of importance or presence in the book, was highly unique and identifiable. Wecker's portrayal of each character brilliantly highlights some of the more beautiful and heart-breaking experiences as a human, and the characters in this novel read remarkably well and realistic.
Guidall does a wonderful job narrating this novel; he gives a variety and subtly to each character, successfully amplifying the already strong characterization created by Wecker. The pacing was wonderful, and the overall performance was delightful.
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