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
English Lit BA highest honors UC Berkeley, 1974. Listening to books for pleasure or education is fun and it separates good writing from bad.
This is an only in New York City story; with the press of pre-WWI immigration from the Middle-East and Eastern Europe could two such unlikely beings, who are only human in form, meet.
The imaginative sparks this meeting and Ms. Wecker's plot(s) sets off, and the tremendous cast of characters, keeps this deep and richly textured novel, with Mr. Guidall's always wonderful narration, marvelously entertaining.
One star off; I would have tightened it up quite a bit if I had been the editor.
I could barely put this audio book down. I love Helene Wecker's writing and imagination. Wow! I believe she's right up there with Brian Sanderson and yes, MIchael J. Sullivan. Did I mention how much I loved this book? Yes, I guess I did. If you love fantasy and are looking for something different with a rich characters and a great storyline, this is it.
After a rather long dry spell spent with books I was rather disappointed in, this was a welcome return to pure pleasure. I had read many of the positive reviews and had high hopes, but I've listened to several that also were reviewed well and I wish I had spent my time more constructively in the end. The Golem and the Jinni is truly magical and enchanting and I was left longing for more when it ended. Not that the ending was lacking, but the experience was so enjoyable I wanted it to continue!
The way the Golem and the Jinni complimented each other. They're conversations really illustrated how different their temperaments were and yet, there was a common thread between them that I think often exists with such odd pairs.
There were many fragmented moments that held great potential. However, there was no scene in particular that gripped me.
I think my favorite scene was when the Golem, the Jinni, and ice cream man Sala all end up on the front steps of Sophia Winston's house. Sophia, although bombarded by almost strangers, kept her cool and treated her guests with hospitality. I also appreciate that she used a situation that could have been quite destructive to her benefit and found a way to have her parents consent to her traveling the world.
In the city of New York, the magical world of the immigrant comes to life.
Before there were latex sex dolls there were female Golems. Fine, I'm stretching things, but what would happen if you found that you'd fallen in love with an animate piece of clay? Wecker not only brings to life her Golom, but immigrant society in 19th C. America; sort of a historical fantasy. An interesting story with a feminine perspective on love and loyalty. Guidall is one of the few male narrators who do women and dialects very well.
Even fiction and fantasy books should have enough believability to at least try to imagine. When you write about a type of being, some things are understood about those beings that is a basis to build on and work around or else why pick that particular type of being? To have a new golem, with no history, walking around Manhattan feeling sorry for a hungry child and stealing food to feed him is so far from what a golem is that it makes no sense to even choose that type of being. It is like saying that you're going to tell a story about a hummingbird, but this character lives at the bottom of the ocean and eats ford pickups for lunch. If you get too far from the core of what that being generally is described as, what's the point of picking that type of being?
She could have written the title characters as a tomato and a cucumber and it would have made as much sense. I like fiction and I like fantasy, but it's got to at least make a little sense somewhere in it to get me interested.
The golem and the jinni.
This novel follows two inhuman characters, a golem and a Jinni, to comment and decipher the movements and actions of humanity. Through them, we get to laugh with them as they observe the quirks of human nature, and understand their confusion at human actions.
The story is meandering, a bit more slice-of-life through their eyes. I felt it was a little slow, but it was also relaxed and said everything that it wanted to say. I also really enjoyed the narrator. So prepare to sit back with some tea and enjoy this one. I defiantly recommend it!
Both writer and narrator had me enthralled throughout the book. Fantasy creatures as "Everyman" added layers of meaning without ever taking me out of the story.
This is a great listen. I am not into fantasy but this feels more like History with a whimsical twist. You'll love it.
So satisfying in every way. A modern fairy tale, spun out so well it was hard to stop listening. Good narration too
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