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
My husband and I attempted to listen to this on a long drive. By the 5th chapter, we decided that silence would be better - it was just agonizing. The narrator was painfully dull, and the story unfolded, perhaps, too slowly; we couldn't imagine listening to the whole excruciating thing.On the other hand, when we returned home, and I tried again with the book, this time on my afternoon walks, things turned around. The story finally (!) picked up, and the listening under different circumstances helped, though the narrator remained, for quite a while, a taste I'd not yet acquired.. In the final analysis, I liked the book and became reconciled to the narrator's style. It was worth the listen, though I don't know that I'd go back either to the author or to the narrator.
I am an entertainer...so I spend a lot of time on the road. I take my audio seriously. I appreciate great writing and outstanding narration.
I have pretty high standards for audio books. I want great narration...lively and interesting characters and a plot that moves along at a solid pace.
You get all of that and much more in this outstanding story.
19 plus hours and I wasn't bored once.
This one is a keeper.
Absolutely! Wonderful story, characters and questions of existence. This was such a delightful surprise since I had not heard of the author before or read reviews of the book. George Guidall is one of my favorite narrators and is once again excellent
This was fascinating to me on various levels, you got to learn about
- Golem's and Genies
- explore how they felt suddenly turning up in 19th C New York.
- what 19th C New York was like with all the new immigrants
- myths and legends in Jewish Kaballa culture (golems) and Bedouin culture, (genies)
It was really well written, well read, absorbing, believable and a good pace
We got to explore each character and how they felt about what was happening now and how they got to this stage in their lives.
Lots of mystery and intrigue -- refreshingly unpredictable
This book was a great story and is now easily my new favorite nobel. The story has great complex characters, amazing plot and imagery that immerses the player into the story... The only thing I dislike is that I want more and I don't know if it is even possible for the author to deliver on that... I loved it! Thanks you to the author.
The summary of this book made it somewhat interesting, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good this story actually was. I was drawn in right from the beginning and didn't want to stop listening. The characters were developed well and the author brought fantasy into a real world environment. I felt I was experiencing these characters' actions and emotions.
All of them? All of the characters impacted one another in a very cleaver way.
No, my first listen, but I enjoyed his reading of this story. It was well-matched.
Chava, the Golem. Such an interesting character.
Listen to this book! You will not be disappointed!
Avid reader and blogger
A Golem – a woman made of clay who can feel people’s desires – and a Jinni just out of the bottle are left to fend for themselves in New York, 1899. A strange and fascinating setting for an incredible novel! I absolutely adored this strange and beautiful tale. I loved the characters whose likes I’ve never encountered before.
The Jinni’s artistic creativity and thirst for freedom was fascinating reading, and I relished the Golem’s dilemmas concerning her ability to read people’s desires and find a way to function in the world. She wanted nothing more than to belong somewhere and to someone, to know her place and how to please others. He, the Jinni, wants freedom above all. From this strange mismatch forms a beautiful friendship. I highly recommend this novel!
You ever just need an escape? And I'm not talking 'bout from everyday life. I mean from the same ole' rehashed stories ranging from space-opera to fantasy. This is about as good as you'll find. Admittedly the latter is the staple of my audible diet but this, this is something entirely different you'll wish to take a break for. It's that good. It's so good in fact I've been finding myself looking for more "breaks" by this author. But alas, I'll just to listen again.
Photographer, nature & water geek, music lover, book fiend.
This is a book I had relegated to the wish list for that "someday" I'd want to take a chance on it...I'm so glad the day came & now anxiously look forward to another book by Helene Wecker. As for Mr Guidall, he is undoubtably among the best in the business. I always feel like a book is in masterful care when he narrates. Highly recommend The Golem & the Jinni!
This story is 5*'s in all categories. Fell in love with both the Joni and the golem. I will miss them. The voice of the narrator was perfect
. The story line kept me interested , and though there are many characters each was introduced in a way that made them memorable. Videos to the author
"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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