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Editorial 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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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    1,069
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Performance

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
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  • Joseph
  • Converse, TX, United States
  • 09-07-16

It was an engaging story, that felt good.

I liked the characters, and it was a look into rash decisions and there consequences, while trying to explore life.

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Exquisite

One of the best books I've read, and probably the best audiobook performance I've listened to. A perfect blend of character-ficused realism and subtle plot-driven soeculative fiction.

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Entrancing

A thoroughly enjoyable story, this audio delight had me listening to the detriment of my own productivity. The author's cultural knowledge interwove the characters' lives so beautiful, and of course a genius finish. The performer's voices had me feeling as though I'd befriended the characters themselves. Though it left a little to be desired with regard to certain thematic developments, I admit my own bias may color this particular aspect. All in all, such a delightful story to get lost in- a million years could pass by and I'd hardly be aware.

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  • Jodi
  • BUFFALO, NY, United States
  • 08-25-16

Not fantasy but reality

Absolutely loved this book! I expected fantasy with fantastical things, but this is more about people. Learning who one is and how they fit into the world.

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A fantastic story.

I wish it hadn't ended. Great narration and a mystical story exploring ancient mythologies. Enjoyed it thoroughly.

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Mundane Magical Beings

What made the experience of listening to The Golem and the Jinni the most enjoyable?

The narrator's voice was soothing, but still lively. Definitely lent to the magical, ethereal atmospheric quality that (I believe) the author was trying to capture.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The story is about a golem and a jinni, who are both magical creatures, living amongst normal, familiar, non-magical people in early 20th century NYC. I expected the focus of the writer to be in explaining the worlds of the magical beings. Instead, through the eyes of the golem and jinni, what is explained to you is the inner workings of immigrant culture in the early 20th century... which is a subject I'm already pretty well-versed in. It is well written, but it never really pulled me in and made me want to keep going. I expected a little more magic, and a little less everyday life.

What about George Guidall’s performance did you like?

His embodiment of different characters was great-- somehow, without over the top impressions, raising the tone of his voice to a squeak to impersonate women, etc, he lent a different voice to each character in a way that made it very easy to follow what was going on, even if I wasn't entirely focused on listening.

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

No... moved a bit too slow, didn't seem to have a driving force in the story, probably because of the split protagonist.

Any additional comments?

The narrators voice was really pleasant... unfortunately the lack of spark in the story meant that, more than once, his narration lulled me to sleep...

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Realistic, fantasy mixed with humantiy

Would you listen to The Golem and the Jinni again? Why?

Yes, not what I thought it would be, BETTER. This is not a fast pace, action packed fantasy, but still not a dull moment. It is a human drama where the 2 main characters are a Jinni form a bottle and a Golem made from clay. They are physical strong, but to survive they have to become human. Learning how, in the Jewish society of early 20th century, NY.

What other book might you compare The Golem and the Jinni to and why?

Not like anything I have read. Both characters have a richly told fantasy story and special powers, but they have to survive in a strict Jewish community, where their strengths might get them killed.

Which scene was your favorite?

I appreciated how both learned to fit into human society. Through their struggle to survive in our world, you see the flaws and endearments of the humans helping them.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It is like a Rembrandt painting. Beautiful. George Guidall made this book outstanding. Read in a soft calm voice, still there was not one dull moment.

Any additional comments?

If I read the reviews, I would have thought this a dull story, I would have missed a book with rich characters, well researched history as well as a fantasy twist I have not read before. This is a story told well, not a mindless action thrill ride.

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Fantastic

I just finished listening to the Golem and the Jinni for the second time; this time with my sister, ..... and incredibly, like the story, it was even better!

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Outstanding

I was concerned initially that I would find the narrator's voice grating, but quickly came to enjoy it. It's a wonderfully colorful story with complicated characters in which you become completely invested. I will probably buy a printed copy to read again in the future.

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I didn't want it to end

Incredible! One to add to my list of ALL TIME favorites! Brilliant! The acting was flawless! Every character came to life with ease. I was transformed into another place and time from the first chapter and all the way through. A classic