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
Helen Wecker: No
George Guidall: Yes
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.
This is a tough one. None of them are memorable, but I suppose the interaction with the wizard getting ready to capture the Jinni.
Flip a coin.
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.
A much better story.......I obviously didn't hear what others did....:(
No not at all
Will be sending back.
I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.
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.
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.
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.
Always love George Guidall. He is an exceptional narrator and without his talent I couldn't have finished this book.
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.
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.
I finished it but almost didn't. It got boring to me.
It was expected.
I honestly don't
A lovely examination of human nature with a very exciting climax.
Mr. Guidall has a 'read the phonebook' kind of quality.
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.
Don't have one.
Maybe - it would be markedly condensed so probably a lot better.
The many characters were hard to keep up with but good story.
Listening straight through would have helped.
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
George Guidall brought a lot of personality to each character.
He has a pleasant voice and a gift for story telling
A movie would be more enjoyable. The CD was too long only because I did not have that kind of time.
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
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.
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