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The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel by Helene…

The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel

by Helene Wecker

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Golem and the Jinni (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,8622752,181 (4.13)349
Chava, a golem brought to life by a disgraced rabbi, and Ahmad, a jinni made of fire, form an unlikely friendship on the streets of New York until a fateful choice changes everything.
  1. 93
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (spacemoth, unlucky)
    unlucky: Both have magic hidden in a historical setting, and both have the same kind of atmosphere.
  2. 71
    The Snow Child: A Novel by Eowyn Ivey (Iudita)
  3. 62
    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (sturlington, Othemts)
    sturlington: The author said it inspired her.
  4. 31
    The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud (passion4reading)
    passion4reading: An example of a successful combination of different cultural/mystical elements, with a djinni and - surprisingly - a golem.
  5. 10
    The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton (Othemts)
  6. 00
    The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (sturlington)
  7. 11
    The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud (Anjali.Negi)
  8. 011
    A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (capetowncanada)
    capetowncanada: After reading George R.R. Martin I've had a hard time finding anything that measures up. This does just that, a well written and imaginative story of two fabled creatures in 1899 NY.

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» See also 349 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 273 (next | show all)
This book joins my all time top fifteen with a bang. I'm strictly a fantasy and crime as well as historical non-fiction fan, but the fact that this book contained romance scarcely bothered me. The sheer skill of the writer at keeping you gripped is marvelous. Rabbi cum wizard Schaalman is the most frightening old-man villain I've seen in a long-time. ( )
  SVY | May 25, 2020 |
Really interesting historically, folklore-ly, actionly, and personally. ( )
  dogcoptor | Apr 19, 2020 |
Otto Rotfeld wants a golem as a companion, and the kabbalist, Yehudah Schaalman, agrees to make hime one. On the ship to New York, Rotfeld wakes the golem, but shortly after dies on the journey. The golem alone and afraid jumps of the ship to escape attention and walks ashore in New York. As she stumbles around the city she is spotted by the a rabbi, who see her for what she is. He takes her in and explains to her what she is and names her Chava. He starts to show her around New York and teach her to survive in the city at the turn of the century.

Whilst repairing a flask a tinsmith releases a djinni, a creature of fire, who had been trapped there for a millennia. With no recollection of how he had been put there, he decides to stay with the craftsman and assist with his business. He has a natural talent for working metal, and starts to work alongside Arbeely as an apprentice.

As they start to find themselves and develop routines in the city they come across each other purely by chance late one night. They realise that they are unique beings in this mass of humanity, and they have totally different perspectives on the humans around them. They spend nights walking the city, and as their friendship grows they start to depend on each other and their relationship starts to have an effect on there separate circles of friends.

And yet they have a link that almost transcends time. The kabbalist who created Chava has come to New York seeking her, but there is no good intent in his motives, against these ancient creatures.

Wecker has written a fairly good debut novel here, carefully blending a historical novel with characters from the Jewish and Muslim folklores. The character development is good with the two main characters have a balance of flaws and traits, with the secondary characters having solid roles too. They are not only immigrants into this seething mass of humanity, but are part of a separate sub culture within this city, and that comes across very well. I felt that she was also trying to bring these two characters together as an allegory for cultural communication too.

The plot was reasonable, but I thought a touch predictable in some ways. Was tempted to give this four, as it is really nicely written but think 3.5 is the right score.

( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
the characters weren't particularly interesting to me ( )
  mvayngrib | Mar 22, 2020 |
A lovely fantasy allegory of not just the immigrant experience, but the misfit experience--what it is like not to belong anywhere, never to fit in, always to be modifying your reactions and actions so as not to allow others to see you as you are. Gripping and beautifully told. ( )
  andrea_mcd | Mar 10, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 273 (next | show all)
The title characters of “The Golem and the Jinni” are not the book’s only magic. The story is so inventive, so elegantly written and so well constructed that it’s hard to believe this is a first novel. Clearly, otherworldly forces were involved.
added by karenb | editStar-Tribune, Curt Schleier (Jun 15, 2013)
You think a relationship is complicated when a woman is from Venus and a man is from Mars? Trust me, that’s a piece of cake compared with the hurdles that a modest golem and a mercurial jinni face when they fall in love.
The sometimes slow pace picks up considerably as the disparate characters decipher the past and try to save the souls variously threatened by the golem and the jinni, as well as by the Jewish conjurer and (surprise) a Syrian wizard. The interplay of loyalties and the struggle to assert reason over emotion keep the pages flipping.
added by karenb | editNew York Times, Susan Cokal (May 16, 2013)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wecker, Heleneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beals, Jesse TarboxCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ljoenes, RichardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruoto, WilliamDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Kareem
First words
The Golem's life began in the hold of a steamship.
"A man might desire something for a moment, while a larger part of him rejects it. You'll need to learn to judge people by their actions, not their thoughts."
You must learn how to act according to what people say and do, not what they wish or fear.
These were the world's first people. Everything they did, every action and decision, was entirely new, without precedent. They had no larger society to turn to, no examples of how to behave. They only had the Almighty to tell them right from wrong. And like children, if His commands ran counter to their desires, sometimes they chose not to listen. And then they learned that there are consequences to one's actions.
As the daughter of one of the richest and most prominent families in New York--indeed, in the country--it had been made clear to her, in ways both subtle and overt, that she was expected to little more than simply exist, biding her time and minding her manners until she made a suitable match and continued the family line. Her future unrolled before her like a dreadful tapestry, its pattern set and immutable. There would be a wedding, and then a house somewhere nearby on the avenue, with a nursery for the children that were, of course, mandatory.
"Once a golem develops a taste for destruction," the old rabbi said, "little can stop it save the words that destroy it. Not all golems are as crude or stupid as this one, but all share the same essential nature. They are tools of man, and they are dangerous. Once they have disposed of their enemies they will turn on their masters. They are creatures of last resort. Remember that."
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Book description
Audie Award Finalist, Fiction, 2013

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.

Haiku summary
Magical beings
Seeking truth, learning goodness
Mud and fire endure

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