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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 (4822 )
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Performance
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    cedar 02-15-15
    cedar 02-15-15
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    2
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    Story
    "Fabulous Story"

    So many twists and turns, I was completely engaged the entire time. The story is a beautiful and complex tapestry of 2 deeply rooted traditions, each explored in a brilliant visual and fascinating way. Helene Wicker has an amazing mind, she is an amazing story teller. I will listen to the entire book again very soon.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristine 02-14-15
    Kristine 02-14-15
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    157
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    "Excellent story! Loved it!!"

    This book went well beyond my expectations! I loved all the twists & turns leading you on an adventure with a wonderful destination! I usually can guess how a book will end or have an idea of the direction it will lead me. This book delightfully kept me in captured wonder & I couldn't turn it off. A book I will be recommending to my friends & family.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 02-14-15
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    "Wonderful Unique Book"

    This was my favorite audio book so far. I chose it because I love the sound of George Guidel's voice, but the story was rich and so interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Livia Ireland 02-14-15
    Livia Ireland 02-14-15 Member Since 2015

    Livia Ellis

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    4
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    "just amazing."

    I'm not sure if the story is great or if George Guidall is just an amazing narrator. I'll admit I'm buying books just to hear him. Truthfully the story was engaging and pulled me along. I'm happy I took the change on what I thought was going to be a bit of fantasy fluff.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle Petersen 02-13-15 Member Since 2014
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    4
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    "Unique and intriguing. A great story."

    Great book, the narrator was perfect! For such a unique story, the language and inflection added a deeper layer. More like story - telling than recitation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Edmonton, AB, Canada 02-12-15
    David Edmonton, AB, Canada 02-12-15 Member Since 2011

    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.

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    "Outstanding...Innovative...Delightful"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Amanda Rosenberger 02-12-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Great Performance"

    Such an amazing job with the varied accents. I was impressed! Very creative story, I author expertly weaves a novel that spans 1000 years together.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    P L-ski 02-12-15
    P L-ski 02-12-15 Member Since 2014
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    9
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    "WOW"
    What made the experience of listening to The Golem and the Jinni the most enjoyable?

    It's amazing how in depth the characters are described, I would say sometimes just a hair to much. Mind bugling depth, very cool


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    They are all great and the history of each character is research very well.


    What about George Guidall’s performance did you like?

    It felt like this is the way I would read the book.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The whole book is quite captivating


    Any additional comments?

    If you like a little fantasy set in reality, or if you want to be a good writer, it's a MUST READ!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy OGDEN, UT, United States 02-10-15
    Amy OGDEN, UT, United States 02-10-15
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    "Slow moving by good story."

    I felt like this book was very slow moving and then bam! All the action took place at once. It was a great story about acceptance and I'm glad I listened to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Sam 02-10-15
    Sam 02-10-15 Member Since 2012
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    4
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    "Magical Yet Grim"

    I enjoyed the narrator.
    The writing was well done, although sometimes meandering.
    The story was solid and dynamic.
    The mood was magical yet grim.
    It was vary long.
    One of my favorite audio books, being up their with enders game.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Bibliophile
    Germany
    6/21/13
    Overall
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    "Fascinating magical tale"
    What did you like most about The Golem and the Jinni?

    „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.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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