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The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Jinni (edition 2013)

by Helene Wecker

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,5752622,295 (4.13)347
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.
Title:The Golem and the Jinni
Authors:Helene Wecker
Info:Harper (2013), Hardcover, 496 pages
Collections:2013, Your library
Tags:fiction, fantasy, magic, religion, mythology, djinn, history, new york city, 1890s, multiple perspectives

Work details

The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel by Helene Wecker

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    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 347 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 260 (next | show all)
A fairy tale set in turn of the century New York City that blends Eastern European Jewish culture with Arabian/Syrian culture. We follow the lives of a Golem, a woman created out of clay by magic, and a Jinni, a creature made of fire bound into the form of a man. The story is about how they interact with their respective cultures and become friends.

There is a part of the book that involves a detailed art piece created by one of the characters. They describe the small details throughout it that contribute to an amazing larger scene. I think that describes this book pretty well. Little stories of the various peoples who occupy New York, while not really pushing the story further, really add to the feel and tone of the book.

( )
  nmorse | Dec 3, 2019 |
Great story! I only gave it four stars because I didn't love the ending. But it was really easy to read and very we'll written. ( )
  rlsova | Oct 29, 2019 |
I think I'm actually further along, but my bookmarks aren't syncing from device to device. Anyway, I'm just not digging it (it's sooooo slooooow and boring, so far), so I'm bailing at 1:05:26 / 6%.

I'm actually pretty bummed about this—I've been looking forward to reading it for a long time. Maybe someday I'll try again.
  joyblue | Oct 20, 2019 |
Such a well written book, I was really surprised to find out this was the author's debut novel. ( )
  KonstantinaKP | Oct 13, 2019 |
Tracing two individuals and two immigrant groups, we meet a golem who was created as the "perfect wife" for her master who then dies, and she has to find her own way in New York City, and a jinn that comes out of a bottle and lives with a Syrian immigrant tinsmith. The two could not be more different, but as two outsiders as magical creatures in a human city they meet and begin a friendship.

This was a really thoughtful take on the immigrant experience, set in turn-of-the-20th century New York City, which just happened to be compounded by having two magical creatures. I found it a really delightful story and enjoyed the slow burn of the plot that finally brought the narrative threads together in a pretty exciting denouement. ( )
  bell7 | Sep 2, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 260 (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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