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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 (2635 )
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4.5 (2430 )
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Performance
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  •  
    BrotherDave NC 12-05-13
    BrotherDave NC 12-05-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    49
    7
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    "What Are The Other Reviewers Smoking"
    Would you try another book from Helene Wecker and/or George Guidall?

    Helen Wecker: No
    George Guidall: Yes


    What could Helene Wecker have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Cut out about 85% of the superfluous drudgery and detail about the slow and boring lives of ordinary Jewish/Syrian people in New York communities at the turn of the century. Even the lives of the Jinni and the Golem are monotonous and boring.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    This is a tough one. None of them are memorable, but I suppose the interaction with the wizard getting ready to capture the Jinni.


    What character would you cut from The Golem and the Jinni?

    Flip a coin.


    Any additional comments?

    The author does a nice job of imagery, but I found the level of detail cumbersome and way overdone. A certain amount of fluff is acceptable, but this work goes way beyond that level. I think George Guidall is one of the best narrators there is (and frankly the reason that I purchased this book; well that -and- the other reviews, which I now wonder about), but even his masterful narration cannot get me past the tedious, mundane detail in the book (and I ended up listening at 1.5x speed).

    While I applaud the author's first effort and wish her every success, this book was not for me and probably will not be suited for folks that are looking for a more engaging, faster plot progression.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Upper Hutt, New Zealand 09-09-13
    Amanda Upper Hutt, New Zealand 09-09-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    "BORING"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A much better story.......I obviously didn't hear what others did....:(


    Has The Golem and the Jinni turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No not at all


    Any additional comments?

    Will be sending back.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 07-27-13
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 07-27-13 Member Since 2008

    I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting view of immigrant New York"

    This is an ambitious book, that might have benefited from more editing. But it painted a fabulous view of immigrant New York, turn of the century. And a mingling of several cultures that probably only could have mingled in New York. And Both the Jinni and the Golem are lovingly painted and fleshed out. The ethnic quality wore down on me though.
    It's a good read. Not great but good.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chai on Life Branson, MO 07-26-13
    Chai on Life Branson, MO 07-26-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    53
    10
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    1
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    Story
    "Long 20 hours"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The synopsis was intriguing but found the book fell shy of it's potential. If I could change the book I would have had it live up to the synopsis.
    It was much like a great trailer for an movie but you discover all the enjoyable/funny parts were in the trailer, leaving little else to enjoy at the theater.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    It was all very depressing, dowdy to me. I always picture the stories in my head and this was in sepia. Not even the clearer designation of black and white. Just sepia.
    I realize I am in the minority in not enjoying this book so maybe it was me. I expected a little more pizazz, a little magic, but felt bogged down by the drudgery of slogging through a morose story.


    Which character – as performed by George Guidall – was your favorite?

    Always love George Guidall. He is an exceptional narrator and without his talent I couldn't have finished this book.


    Did The Golem and the Jinni inspire you to do anything?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    Again, maybe it was me. We all have times in which none of our clothes please us, books don't resonate with us, our hair won't please us, we are restless and can't find anything that will happily occupy us. Maybe not liking the book was my fault entirely. It was very well written, the characters were well done. But for me there was no spark.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Monica Johnson Spotsylvania, VA USA 03-25-14
    Monica Johnson Spotsylvania, VA USA 03-25-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Good book!!"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I think the book is for me, but I'm not enjoying the audio all that much. I just need to get a print copy, I think.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BRUCE L. MANSFIELD HURST, TX USA 02-23-14
    BRUCE L. MANSFIELD HURST, TX USA 02-23-14 Member Since 2000
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good characters but the story lacked."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I finished it but almost didn't. It got boring to me.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    It was expected.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes


    Do you think The Golem and the Jinni needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    I honestly don't


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris memphis, TN, United States 12-24-13
    Chris memphis, TN, United States 12-24-13 Member Since 2013
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    "A wonderful book for those grown cynical"
    What did you like best about this story?

    A lovely examination of human nature with a very exciting climax.


    What about George Guidall’s performance did you like?

    Mr. Guidall has a 'read the phonebook' kind of quality.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Theresa Virginia 12-03-13
    Theresa Virginia 12-03-13 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    37
    2
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    Story
    "Glacial pace"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No


    What was most disappointing about Helene Wecker’s story?

    The story moves at an unbearably slow pace. I originally started reading the book but kept falling asleep. Over the course of about 4 months I only made it 20% through the story. I then purchased the audiobook so I could listen while I run and travel. Though it was better, everything moves along so incredibly slowly and in a way that is not very interesting.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Don't have one.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Maybe - it would be markedly condensed so probably a lot better.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Ft. Collins, CO, United States 09-14-13
    Elizabeth Ft. Collins, CO, United States 09-14-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very long..best if your on a LONG tripThe many"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    The many characters were hard to keep up with but good story.
    Listening straight through would have helped.


    What other book might you compare The Golem and the Jinni to and why?

    I found this story to stand on its own.
    *** BUT you do like stories of Golems, Wizards (who don't take themselves to seriously),Death who is learning to have a personality... Adult fun and laughter try Terry Pratchetts DiscWorld series... yes it's a series but each book stands on its own. except the WEE FREE MEN laugh out loud 3 book series


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

    George Guidall brought a lot of personality to each character.
    He has a pleasant voice and a gift for story telling


    Could you see The Golem and the Jinni being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    A movie would be more enjoyable. The CD was too long only because I did not have that kind of time.


    Any additional comments?

    I really enjoy the story---but I only made it up to Chapter 10 before I started getting tired of the story. Probably should have read it first.... maybe I will

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Constance New York, NY, United States 08-08-13
    Constance New York, NY, United States 08-08-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating but Flawed Fantasy"
    Any additional comments?

    This well written fantasy places a Jinni and a Golem in turn of the century New York City where each is taken in by a member of the burgeoning immigrant community. Each is stranded by circumstance in this alien environment, compelled to conceal their magical identities, struggling to live with dignity and meaning in a situation where their magical abilities must be hidden with extreme care. What a great premise for a book! We see them assessing and grappling with the social and cultural conditions of humankind in this particular time and place. Many readers will enjoy this book.

    I stopped listening about half way through despite all the book's good qualities---and excellent narration by George Guidall--because I found the character of the Jinni increasingly repellent: egotistical, selfish, and emotionally cold as ice. I kept comparing this book to Jonathan Stroud's The Amulet of Samarkand, in which a demon is summoned by a young wizard and forced to interact in the human world. He is a demon, but he has abundant charming qualities: funny, witty, and at heart a force for good in the story. To create a "good" demon, Stroud created a character who is not consistent with the classical definition of a demon, and to this extent one can say that he "cheated" in order to make a better story. The author of The Jinni and the Golem has not "cheated" in this way with her Jinni. The Jinni's character is consistent through and through with a god-like being that has existed for thousands of years without any moral compass. And maybe, if the author had made him into a character whom I loved to hate, it would have worked. However, his behaviors do not inspire an enjoyable hatred in this reader--nor do they inspire any affection. He is just depressing to spend time with.

    The Golem on the other hand is a sympathetic character---and so are many if not most of the human characters. I wonder how this story will turn out. Will the Jinni develop a heart? Will the Golem find the friendship and a sense of belonging for which she yearns?

    The narration by George Guidall is typically wonderful.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
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