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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

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
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  • Story

A Terrific First Novel

Any additional comments?

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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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

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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

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Fantastic story and an excellent narrator

Where does The Golem and the Jinni rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Definitely in the top ten!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Loved them all but the jinni was someone I identified with in some ways so was my favorite.

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

I love a skilled voice actor that can capture the mood and emotion of a book like this and really engage me in the book even now some time later I can recall the jinni and his often bemused and sometimes baffled tone while addressing the many strange customs of the new world he finds himself in.

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

The jinni for sure, if you could get him to tell you tales of hundreds of years living in a world of spirits and elemental creatures that would be awesome!

Any additional comments?

This was probably not a book I would have bought on the publishers description alone but the personal reviews were so positive that I took a chance and was very happy that I did. I have already recommended this to several of my friends as a story this well told crosses genres in its ability to grab hold of a reader and keep them there.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Heather
  • BEAVERTON, OR, United States
  • 08-09-13

Best Book I've Read/Listened To This Year

What did you love best about The Golem and the Jinni?

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!

What did you like best about this story?

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.

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

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Superb narration of an original plot.

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Joe Kraus
  • Kingston, PA, United States
  • 12-24-13

Nearly as good as the hype

Any additional comments?

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.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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A Gem!

I'm usually pretty hardcore sci-fi/fantasy, but this book had such a nice and airy feel too it that "hardcore" just wouldn't seem nice. I'm not saying it's not gripping and has some gritty parts, I'm just referring to the quality of the writing. This is a timeless story!

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Nice story well performed.

I enjoyed listening to this book. The characters were well drawn and the performance was excellent.

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Good, interesting, but just a dash unsatisfying.

The concept of this book was very intriguing and I enjoyed the detailed journey of the characters. The conclusion of it all was a little wanting for me. I have a medium level of attachment to the characters and wanted to get tipped more into them, but it just never happened. I would say this is the cusp of a four star book, but fell just shy for me.