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
I enjoyed this book mostly because of the characters -- they were real, with flaws and strengths. The writing was smart and I found myself really caring about what happened to the characters.
The story was also interesting - for me it was unique, having only read a few stories with Jin and Golems, so the world was still newish for me.
The pace was decent - a tad slow in parts - and the author's writing style is smart. She uses dialog between characters to build the story, which I think always makes for a better read.
I'm looking forward to the next installment (I hope there is one...)
The setting, character development, human insights, and narrator all made this book a wonderful listen. There was a gentle, penetrating quality which made this book particularly enjoyable after listing to other fantasy novels which contained a lot of violence. A remarkable first novel.
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.
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.
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.
Nothing, I found the story so boring and depressing. I got 2/3 through and have gave up several times because I constantly lose focus and really no connection with any of the characters. Just to sappy and miserable.
I really could care less about all of the characters, it's just boring.
Sure, he didn't write the book.
I really didn't care for anyone in the book.
Saw all the great reviews and attempted to get through it on several occasions. It was a huge wast of money and effort. Also, I don't think it was a matter of taste, it's just not very good writing.
I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath
I had to get this because of all the great reviews. Once again I did not dig deep enough. Through the first half this was an excellent story with an excellent narrator. The story had a fairy, fantastical feel with a historical aspect to it. The development of the Golem and her reaction to the world were wonderful. At first the Jinni was a separate story, with an Aladdin type of feel. Both characters were opposites in nature. There were some jerky transitions in times and places, but not bad enough to ruin the story.
Some interesting things happen when they get to New York City. In New York we meet some nice American characters. We also get a feel for the horrifying way in which immigrants had to enter through Ellis Island and how strange the New World would have felt for them. We also see how hard it was for new people and not everyone was so inviting. Then in the middle of the book one of the sub characters die and the mood of the book changed. The Jinni and the Golem meet and they start taking long walks together. My wife saw the movie Tess, I did not, but she said it was boring and all they did was take long walks and talk, talk ,talk. This turns into that. There was the beginning of the development of a bad guy and I thought that would be interesting, but it took forever. This novel was in strong need of an editor. I am not sure the editor read the manuscript all the way through. The book turns into a soap opera and the magical feel it had earlier goes out the window. With four hours and forty minutes left, I gave up. I had suffered through several hours of dialogue and soap operaness and lost patience.
George Guidall adds class to everything he narrates, for a debut novel to score one of the best was very lucky for Wecker.
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