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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 (4510 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Tom Boyd 01-28-15
    Tom Boyd 01-28-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Excellent"

    What a gem. I usually look for good writing first in any genre, and this certainly qualifies. It has a magical quality but the essence of the novel doesn't turn on its fantasy aspects, and in truth this is a book about people and relationships, home and homeland, even though some of the main characters are mystical creatures. It is one of a few books that appeals to me as well as my wife's book club, so my sense is that it should he enjoyable for a wide audience.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betty Taylorsville, UT, United States 01-28-15
    Betty Taylorsville, UT, United States 01-28-15 Member Since 2014
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    "So unique."

    My reviews of books are only based on how I feel while listening to it, how much time I think about it, and how many friends I would recommend it to. I loved listening to this story. The voice reading to me and the life of the characters his voice brought to mind. It is such a different story, and the period of time was rich with description. I would think there had to be more friends out there that would also enjoy it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Felicia Whitewall Chicago, IL USA 01-28-15
    Felicia Whitewall Chicago, IL USA 01-28-15 Member Since 2015

    Felicia

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    "Slow, but okay"

    This book starts slowly and doesn't get great until the last third. Amazing narration kept me with it until the story got interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sally 01-27-15
    Sally 01-27-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Outstanding!"

    I didn't expect much from this book, so I was very surprised when the rambling, leisurely narrative captured me. There is such a wealth of detail and character in this story of unlikely lovers. The book is not a "romance" but it is a love story. The immersion is total and the ending is most satisfying.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shelly in baton rouge Baton Rouge, LA United States 01-27-15
    shelly in baton rouge Baton Rouge, LA United States 01-27-15 Member Since 2007

    shelly

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    "Wow."

    I'm one of those listeners who listens to books that are great over and over. A great story with a great narrator is increasingly hard to find in these days of stupid werewolf and vampire teenie bopper melodrama. And the stuff that is passing for science fiction these days is leaving a lot to be desired. Sadly, neil gaiman, Stephen king, and Tim powers only throw one or two books at us every year or so- so how lovely is this young woman's story!? What a great read!!

    The things that have been criticized about this work are the things that I actually really appreciate in this sort of tale- we need the intricate backstory to get what is happening in the main characters heads- I mean, it's not like you have a djinn or golem as a neighbor...- I loved it. Loved the narration, loved the story and loved the writing style. She's great!! WELL worth the sale price and would be WELL worth a credit as well!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle Jones 01-26-15 Member Since 2013
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    "I loved this book so much"
    What did you love best about The Golem and the Jinni?

    This was a really wonderfully layered book, using the backdrop of NYC at the turn of the century with the varied lives of immigrants and the differing mystic tales of the various ethnicities. I immediately listened to it again once I finished.


    What about George Guidall’s performance did you like?

    The accents. He was really great.


    If you could take any character from The Golem and the Jinni out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    The Jinni, obviously. He sounded HOT.


    Any additional comments?

    Great listen. Thanks!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    samuel 01-22-15
    samuel 01-22-15 Member Since 2014
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    4
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    "Does a person's nature define us?"

    Great story, not action-packed, about two creatures trying to fit in with in an old New York. Ending was as it should be (meaning that it didn't tie up everything and left some things to the imagination), writing and narration was well done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill San Francisco, CA, United States 01-22-15
    Bill San Francisco, CA, United States 01-22-15 Member Since 2009
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    "A wonderful story wonderfully told"

    I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was delighted from beginning to end. A rich, but simply told story about life, identity and free will…woven around two magical creatures who find themselves in 19th century New York City.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maryellen Kissimmee, FL, United States 01-20-15
    Maryellen Kissimmee, FL, United States 01-20-15 Member Since 2015

    Tell us about yourself!

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    "WOW what a Great start for an authors first book!!"

    A little bit of fantasy, tales from the past and history all rolled into a great read. The author incorporates the daily lives of the citizens of New York around the turn of the century that goes back to the deserts of the middle east and superstitions of eastern Europe. The characters are well developed and the story is told so the they interact and lead you to a surprising end. Can't wait for her next book. George Guidall narrates and does so superbly.
    Have fun with this read and enjoy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TWhipcat Silicon Valley 01-19-15
    TWhipcat Silicon Valley 01-19-15 Member Since 2011

    After cutting my reader teeth on all of Agatha Christy, I turned to just about any escapist drama for my non-academic book consumption.

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    "Engrossing story with great historical background"
    Any additional comments?

    This was a book-club read, and almost all of us agreed that though we would not have chosen it otherwise, it turned out to be a favorite! So many interesting themes were explored, as well as an immersive look at life in turn-of-the-century New York. Very enjoyable and highly recommended! We even thought that it would make an excellent replacement for some of the less relevant novels required in jr. high reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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