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
It was original and very well written. A story that draws you in and keeps you until the very last page- wishing it wouldn't end. I love books like that- it doesn't happen often enough!
I kept wondering how the author came up with the idea for this story - it's so unique. She does a good job of keeping you guessing. Also of making you really care about the characters and what happens to them. It's a fantastical story, obviously, but done in a way so that it never seems silly or too far-fetched.
I haven't heard any other George Guidall's performances, but he was fantastic! Very distinct voices for each character that fit them very well- even with accents and female voices. There was never any confusion about who was speaking, which can happen if the performer is not very good.
This novel easily ranks among the top 5% of audio books. George Guidall is undeniably the best male narrator. He savors words and breaths life into phrases. His timing and rhythm is impeccable. (I buy some audio books just to hear Guidall's wonderful voice.)
But, the story and plot is equally entrancing. It is an original novel, with unique characters, colorful history, and interesting introduction to Jewish mysticism and Bedouin myths. The characters are believable and develop well throughout the story. Do pay attention to the little details. They matter.
I'd heard a lot of very good things about this one, and it mostly held up to them. It's the latest in a line of recent "fantasy for grown-ups" books, and it falls between Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore -- to pick a couple at the extremes of quality. This has all the ambition of the books of its sort -- a clever setting with the addition of some thoughts on the nature of immigrant life almost a century ago -- and it's solidly written. Parts go on a bit long, and it doesn't resolve itself with quite the satisfaction of the best in the genre, but it's still fun. It falls short of The Midnight Circus, say, but so do most books. I'd like to have seen it move more quickly once it established its characters (and there's an overly neat coming together of seemingly separate threads) but I do recommend it.
Reader is slow and molasses like. If I am using audio book while driving he makes me sleepy and drowsy. Great story though. Can get confusing at times seeing as how it flits from past to present and on top of that it changes what it calls the characters in different times. So for an audio book that can get annoying.
I have listened to this book several times and enjoy it again and again.
The narration is amazing and the story development is wonderfully expressed. I googled what is a Golem and Jinni after my first listen and was compelled to listen again. It has since become one of my favorite books!
Creatures have human struggles with the need to express their true selves while living within the constraints of physical form and culture. Well developed story and likable characters. Predictable ending.
Uh..."Golem and Jinni"? That's really what it's about, it says it in the title.
Comparing and contrasting what it means to be a golem versus what it means to be a jinni. One is a being of clay, built to be dumb and subservient, longing for the security and guidance of a master. The other, a being of fire and wind, longing for freedom but forced to serve. It's a nice juxtaposition.
His pronunciation of the Hebrew/Yiddish and Arabic names and phrases, along with the subtle accenting, really helped differentiate the two cultures and bring them to life.
Early on, the jinni announces his plans to seduce another character and then does it without any hesitation. I thought that was hilarious and awesome.
If this is Helene Wecker's debut novel, I can't wait to see her next one.
This story is a slow burn. To say it drags at the beginning does not do it justice. Having said all of that the story does eventually comes into its own and the ending is one that satisfies nicely.
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