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The Golem and the Jinni Audiobook

The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel

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Audible Editor 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 Rating

4.4 (9552 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Troy 03-14-17
    Troy 03-14-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Rich light-fantasy with a great historical context"

    I was pleasantly surprised by this fantasy work about two magical creatures struggling in turn of the century New York immigrant neighborhoods.

    Non-spoilery highlights:

    • The book is long, but doesn't feel like it. The writing is sumptuous and easy-going; reading becomes addictive in that "I think I'll do just one more chapter" kind of way. But let's face it, you aren't going to get through this one in one sitting. Guidall is a great reader, no doubt, and a good choice for this one.

    • The titular characters are interesting because they have both inhuman and human (at least in the "universal" sense) instincts. As such, they kind of become a stand-in for anyone who doesn't feel quite like they "fit in." I suppose this next detail is a very mild spoiler, but you learn it in the first few chapters -- both are creatures that would normally have masters, but both are independent operators, without 'present' masters, for most of the book.

    • The ground-level view of Jewish and Syrian neighborhoods adds really nice context and flavor to the work. I suppose if I were to "wish otherwise" for this book, I would wish that this context ran a bit deeper than it does. But it never felt to me as if the author was giving them short-shrift or exploiting them without respect.

    • Ditto the above in regard to turn of the century New York. Many reviews talk about this novel as set in the 19th century, but it begins in 1899 and goes forward, so... I wouldn't say it's either 19th or 20th. More Fin De Siècle.

    • I am still uncertain if I'm satisfied with the outcome of the book. It seems real enough that it's a bit above my likes or dislikes, if you know what I mean. I don't think I've walked away from the book changed though. Part of me wanted some kind of philosophical knot to worry over re: free will. There is the beginnings of that in the book, but it really tells a more human story than delving into intellectual grounds.

    • The characters are great. I think you care about most of them, even incidental ones. So I guess that's what I mean when I say it "tells a more human story."

    Anyway, I loved it. I would recommend it and will probably drop it in my wife's lap. I think this would be a great "next level" read for someone who enjoyed Harry Potter but is ready for something with a bit more meat on the bone. (No disrespect to Rowling's works intended.)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan Wilson Ann Arbor, MI United States 10-23-17
    Jonathan Wilson Ann Arbor, MI United States 10-23-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Cultures clash as myth, mankind & metropolis meet!"

    If you love stories of culture, history, myth, legend and people-- this turn of the 20th century Big Apple story is just your ticket! Loved it all--- did not want it to end! When is the movie coming out? ***** <3

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew 10-18-17
    Andrew 10-18-17
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    "Absolutely Charming"

    The Golem and the Djinni is the sort of story that I wish there was more of. Straddling a line between Fantasy, Historical Fiction, and Magic Realism, this story gets just about everything right.

    One of the things that I found most captivating is that the plot, while far-reaching, is inherently low stakes. It manages to feel epic without anyone being at risk of taking over the world. The world building is excellent, the characters are likable and believable, and plot is satisfying.

    George Guidall is a delight. His voice is perfectly suited to this not-quite-fairy-tale of old timey New York.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    choralairwaves 10-12-17 Member Since 2015
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    "An Excellent Book"

    This is hands down one of the best books I've ever listened to. Both the story and the performance were absolutely wonderful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Amazon Customer 09-19-17 Member Since 2012
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    5
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    "Wonderful story"

    I was surprised at how well these two themes could work in a story. It is a very good book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    JOANNE MARZILI 09-19-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Dry"

    I found the love Mary monotonous dry was not a very lost I was disappointed

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Lena Warren 09-15-17
    Lena Warren 09-15-17
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    "I found myself dreaming of Jinn and Golems"

    Absolutely awesome book. I did not even notice when traffic tripled my commute length. Engaging characters, complex but followable story line, and a really excellent reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    M Hampton NC 09-14-17
    M Hampton NC 09-14-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Completely enveloped"

    What a story and on the streets and rooftops of New York City! Loved it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Emily United States 09-08-17
    Emily United States 09-08-17 Member Since 2011
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    "Very imaginative and captivating"

    This was a great story to get lost in. Ancient mystical being come to life. Religious quandaries. Self discovery, narrator was amazing!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ts 09-06-17
    ts 09-06-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Enchanting tale"

    I did enjoy this story very much. Although it progressed very slowly. That being said, the author did a superb job of painting the scenes and fleshing out the characters very well. I had no problem visualizing the world as presented. The story is magical and believable at the same time. The performance was top notch.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Bibliophile
    Germany
    6/21/13
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    "Fascinating magical tale"
    What did you like most about The Golem and the Jinni?

    „The Golem and the Jinni“ is one of those rare books that completely draws you into its world. In her first published novel Helene Wecker creates a magical setting, beginning at the turn of the century in Poland and then she brings New York and its inhabitants to life. Combined with old Arabian and Jewish folk tales, she had me hooked until the last page was read – at the same time wishing for a magical book that would never end.

    Two mystical beings live among humans, trying to survive without being notice, blend in but not lose themselves. Chava (= life) is a golem and was created by rabbi in Poland who liked meddling with the dark arts, is “curious and intelligent”, as her master had requested. Ahmad is a fire jinni who was trapped in an old copper flask, released by chance in New York but is still bound by an old spell.

    Both do not really fit into human society and often feel lonely, especially at night when nearly everyone around them is asleep. Surrounding them is a colourful mix of all classes of New York’s society at that time.

    Chava was created to serve, to please her master. Unfortunately he already died on the voyage to New York, or maybe fortunately for her? She herself is never certain, because her unusual intelligence and perceptiveness for human needs put her into a permanent vicious circle. There is one episode when she tries to find out what “money” is, as this must be more important to humans than everything else….

    And this explains one of the reasons why I was so fascinated with this book. It is a moving tale of two outsiders who can never really fit in. Who look at our human society from a totally different angle. Who must make their way in a world totally foreign to them, even more than to all the other immigrants coming to New York. Both are very different from us humans and in some ways not so very different at all. They could live forever – but they want to do so? Chava yearns for a master, the jinni for freedom. She was made of clay, feels cold to the touch, he was created of fire and has a fierce temper, too.

    The other figures show other facets of human life, a kind old rabbi, a vicious magus, a young woman from New York’s high society, a bedouin girl and her father… The tale of each figure is told with utmost sensitivity, letting all of them come to life and stay in my memory for a long time.


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

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    Some elements reminded me of the books by Deborah Harkness who also expertly lets her magical beings move in our human world, creating characters that seem like real persons after a few chapters.

    “The Golem and the Jinni” is one of the best stories I have read in a long time, with magical and oh so human characters, letting me walk the streets of a long vanished New York and wishing them all the happiness in the world. A magical, moving, sometimes humours tale. I hope Helene Wecker will continue writing and look forward to reading her next novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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