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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 (2929 )
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  •  
    E Wagner PORTLAND, OR, United States 10-18-13
    E Wagner PORTLAND, OR, United States 10-18-13 Member Since 2010
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    "I fell headfirst into this book"

    You know when you listen to a book and the colors seem richer? Almost like you accidentally walked into a Van Gogh painting, and now all the characters and images are super-vivid? That was my experience with this book. I have to admit that I am a pushover for things that verge into magical realism, so combine that with the historical fiction AND traditional folklore, and this book had me from the outset. But I'd argue that even if someone was not a fan of those things, the natural fluidity of the storytelling would seduce them deep into this novel.

    I loved the audio-experience of this book, in particular, because Guidall's voice "fit" the expressive characters so beautifully.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 09-03-13
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    "Original, Profound and Entertaining!"

    This is one of the best books of the summer. When I read the publisher's description I thought this would be a work of fantasy involving time and the possibility of peace between Muslims and Jews. I was delighted to find instead a deep story about people, just people. It was not a reference to politics or war or the problems of the Middle East. It was a study on the question of what it means to be human, about freedom and redemption that comes from choosing to do the right thing, and most of all, love. The descriptions of the immigrant communities and geography of Manhattan in the late 1800's were wonderful and deeply satisfying. The characters and dialogue captivating and true. George Guidall's narration was, as usual, excellent.

    Is this what literature is supposed to be like? I think so. Wonderful.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Tromso, Norway 08-29-13
    Robert Tromso, Norway 08-29-13 Member Since 2012
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    "A perfect audiobook."

    It doesn't get any better than this. A very good story perfectly narrated by George Guidall.
    The book grips you from the very beginning and won't let go before the end.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JPaladin 11-07-14
    JPaladin 11-07-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Enjoyable read"

    Different kind of story. Fun retelling of the emigrant's tale through the experience of two mythical beings.

    Well done and enjoyable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura 11-05-14
    Laura 11-05-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Maybe a new favorite of mine"
    Where does The Golem and the Jinni rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Excellent book. The story is wonderful I couldnt stop listening. The presentation is fantastic. Loved this book


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    chas solvang, CA, United States 11-04-14
    chas solvang, CA, United States 11-04-14 Member Since 2005
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    "Just Wow!"

    There have been so many previous reviews that truly describe the experience of this work. Put it right up there w/ "Neverwhere" or "Night Circus" and you would not be off the mark. I have not enjoyed a tale this good for quite a long time. You learn to understand and love just about all the characters and the words bring a visual world that is almost three dimensional. Needless to say I think I may have to return and read again in a short time. Buy it read it and you won't be sorry.
    I look forward to more of the writers work and of course GG is just as good as it gets. Thanks to all the creators. Chuck Cunningham, Solvang, CA.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James JAMESTOWN, RI, United States 10-29-14
    James JAMESTOWN, RI, United States 10-29-14 Member Since 2005
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    "A Fantasy You Can't Put Down"
    What did you love best about The Golem and the Jinni?

    The way the author weaves together disparate characters and occurrences to create a story of immense imagination and power. A thoroughly enjoyable listen.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The jini


    Have you listened to any of George Guidall’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    yes, but I cannot remember which ones


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Vaniel 10-24-14
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    "Very Unique Story"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Golem and the Jinni to be better than the print version?

    I didn't read the print edition


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Golem and the Jinni?

    The death of ice creamSaula


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

    Kava the Golem


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

    The Jinni.... he would have had the more fascinating life to talk about.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lydia 10-07-14
    Lydia 10-07-14 Member Since 2014
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    "A detailed look at life in the early 20th Century"
    What did you love best about The Golem and the Jinni?

    The narration was excellent and the depiction of what life was like in NYC in the early 20th century was very detailed and really gave you a sense of a bustling multicultural city.


    Would you recommend The Golem and the Jinni to your friends? Why or why not?

    I would recommend it to my friends but it is a bit on the long side.


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

    George does an excellent narration. While there aren't many characters in this book his accents really help you picture the character better then if you were to read it on your own.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    She was created from earth, he was made of fire. Together they showed us you don't need flesh and bone to be human.


    Any additional comments?

    while I realize this is Helene Weckers first book and an excellent book at that, it could have used some additional editing for brevity's sake. The golem's story seemed to drag on and didn't develop fast enough while the jinni's story was shorter and was eclipsed by the golems' quite often. More back story to the Jinni would have been interesting as well as more development of the evil man who trapped the jinni, perhaps more about his prior lives, did he try to find the jinni? Had he made any more creatures other than the golem?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ClockworkCthulhu Austin 09-30-14
    ClockworkCthulhu Austin 09-30-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Fables and Friends"
    Would you listen to The Golem and the Jinni again? Why?

    The Golem and the Jinni was definitely worth a second read, with magic and intrigue, these characters are easy to fall for. And the writing is detailed without being overzealous.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Golem and the Jinni?

    When the Golem first arrives in the thriving city of New York, her excitement and anxiety is splashed across the page, making you worry for her.


    Have you listened to any of George Guidall’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I haven't listened to anything by this voice artist before, but his voice is pleasant and has character.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    An unlikely friendship and the ruined Rabbi


    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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