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The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel (P.S.) (edition 2013)

by Helene Wecker (Author)

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2,5892092,307 (4.12)292
Member:grunin
Title:The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel (P.S.)
Authors:Helene Wecker (Author)
Info:Harper Perennial (2013), Edition: Reprint, 512 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Fiction, read

Work details

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (Author)

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» See also 292 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 209 (next | show all)
The Golem and the Djinni is, like many fantasy stories, long. With close to 700 pages it’s a commitment sort of book. Nothing you would hastily rush into, something that requires diligence and effort. Something that requires patience. For a long time, it was a book that I could not read because I lacked the time required to commit to it. Although, when the time finally came around, I am happy to say that reading Wecker’s novel was not a waste of time.

Anyone who loves fantasy books, New York, and history, then this is really the perfect book for you. The story is set in 1899 New York City. A time when the city was still becoming itself. With an influx of immigrants from all over the globe, Wecker’s New York hustles and bustles with vivid raw beauty. The story is centred on two unlikely friends, Chava, a golem made of clay, and Ahmad, a djinni born of fire. The two find themselves constantly pretending and trying to fit in, albeit failing more often than not. Chava, as a golem, is made to serve and when her master dies at sea, she has no one to follow. She is able to hear people’s thoughts, their wants and desires, and sometimes she feels overwhelmed by them. It is an old Rabbi who teaches her to judge people not by their thoughts, but by their actions. Ahmad, a djinni is a free roaming fire spirit from the deserts of Syria. He arrives in New York by sheer chance, as a tinsmith named Arbeely manages to free him from his lamp. Ahmad, however, is still not quite free. He wears an iron clasp that prevents him from using all of his powers. He can only remember that he was once trapped by an evil wizard. He must uncover his memories of the past. He is frustrated and angered by his confinement to human form and wishes for a life free from his chains.

Whilst Ahmad longs to be free and Chava longs to be with a master, the two learn a lot from each other: on how to be free, and how to enjoy responsibility, servitude, and compassion. The djinni and the golems’ fates are intertwined with a story that dates back thousands of years. The golem’s maker and the djinni’s captor are in a strange twist of fate and time the same person, Wahab ibn Malik. When the Djinni tries to take his own life to end the cruel curse of the wizard, Wahab ibn Malik, it is the golem who comes to his side and saves him. The story ends in a somewhat unexpected way, with a happily ever after of a different kind.

This book is a really heart warming fantasy story about two souls learning from each other when they least except it. It’s a story that teaches you to look at the world through the eyes of the people around you. It shows you how to let go and when to hold on. If you pick this book, you won’t be disappointed. ( )
  bound2books | Feb 12, 2017 |
What a wonderful story! Good vs. evil. Historical. Cultural. I rooted for all of the characters, except the old man who created the golem. ( )
  sraelling | Jan 31, 2017 |
This is amazing writing. I have never read a story quite like it. It brings so much in to question, beliefs, faiths, religions, etc. It takes place during a time when people had to go between Europe and America by ship and women didn't go around unchaperoned. It mostly has a realistic feel with a few big exceptions. The two main characters aren't human. There are also magicians and such. It's pretty low on the low fantasy scale, but at the same time those fantastical elements are what the whole plot is about. ( )
  ToniFGMAMTC | Jan 19, 2017 |
This is amazing writing. I have never read a story quite like it. It brings so much in to question, beliefs, faiths, religions, etc. It takes place during a time when people had to go between Europe and America by ship and women didn't go around unchaperoned. It mostly has a realistic feel with a few big exceptions. The two main characters aren't human. There are also magicians and such. It's pretty low on the low fantasy scale, but at the same time those fantastical elements are what the whole plot is about. ( )
  ToniFGMAMTC | Jan 19, 2017 |
fantasy novel, takes place in New York in late 1800s. lots of middle eastern history. A golem (mythical jewish character) meets a Jinni from Syria. I liked the writing and felt close to the characters ( )
  lindaspangler | Dec 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 209 (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)
 
This first novel by Helene Wecker -- a Chicago-area native who lives in Northern California -- is both old-fashioned and wildly inventive. Although it defies categorization, it might be best described as a blend of historical fiction and fantasy, as inspired by Jewish and Arabic folklore.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wecker, HeleneAuthorprimary 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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Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
For Kareem
First words
The Golem's life began in the hold of a steamship.
Quotations
"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."
Last words
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Disambiguation notice
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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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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.

(summary from another edition)

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