The Golem And The Jinni: A Novel by Helene WeckerThe Golem And The Jinni: A Novel by Helene Wecker

The Golem And The Jinni: A Novel

byHelene Wecker

Paperback | April 23, 2013

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In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker's debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

Helene Wecker received a BA from Carleton College in Minnesota and an MFA from Columbia University in New York. A Chicago-area native who has made her home in Minneapolis, Seattle, and New York, she now lives near San Francisco with her husband and daughter.The Golem and the Jinniis her first novel.
Title:The Golem And The Jinni: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:496 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.24 inPublished:April 23, 2013Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062269410

ISBN - 13:9780062269416

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magical Two supernatural immigrants arrive to New York City in 1899 and become unlikely friends. Chava is a golem or a creature made from clay. She was created to be tied to a master but shortly after waking her up, her master dies on the ship bringing them to New York City. As Chava wanders around NYC a rabbi sees her for what she is and takes her under his wing. Ahmed is a jinni or a creature made from fire. A thousand years old, he was trapped in a bottle after being captured by a wizard. He can't remember what happened but a metal worker takes him as his apprentice.  While the jinni tries to remember his past and the golem tries to determine her future, the two meet and though suspicious of each other become friends. Since they don't require sleep, they wander the city at night to explore and talk. Chava does not know that her creator is looking for her, hoping to tie her to him as her master.  This is a rather enchanting story about how two individuals that seem so different can forge a great friendship. Though I didn't find it a very quick read, this was because of the level of detail brought to the story. There are many characters, which at the beginning is a bit confusing because I was unsure how all the pieces would fit together. Wecker does a fantastic job however of describing what these characters are thinking and doing which makes the story come to life.  The novel takes place in 1899 but I'm not entirely sure why. I personally didn't feel that the time the story takes place in had any bearing on the story. Immigrants may not come by boat as frequently as they did then, but people would still reach out to help those that are slightly different from themselves. Really, this book could take place in any time.  This book is quite different from anything I have read recently and I would recommend it! 
Date published: 2014-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent, very well written book of fantasy This is one of the best written fantasy books that doesn't involve extreme violence and that has a gripping story line. It was hard to put down as the story just pulls you in deeper with every page. If this is her first book, I can't wait for more.
Date published: 2013-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic read! Beautifully written characters that get hold of you early on and don't let go. A fantasy novel without any swords - nice change. The history is fascinating - early New York and the immigrant story completely brought to life. Enjoy it yourself!
Date published: 2013-08-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Can't believe this is a début! It actually blows my mind a little that this is Helene Wecker’s debut novel. It is an absolutely stunning and gorgeous tale that pulled me in right from the first few pages and wouldn’t let go until the very end. The setting for The Golem and the Jinni is absolutely perfect – Historic New York City at the end of the 19th Century is an incredible time and place. It has an old world, ancient feeling to it – as more and more cultures, with deep traditions, make a new home there. But yet it is still a new and vibrant city. There are people everywhere and always some sort of commotion. It is as if the city itself is filled with energy. These two different versions of NYC combined give a very magical quality to the story. The blending of the old with the new to create something previously unthinkable. Within the larger setting of New York there are two smaller worlds that our characters abide within. The more impoverished Jewish area – where the Golem, Chava resides. And a place called “Little Syria” where the Jinni, Ahmad, is released from his prison. I loved the blending of Jewish and Islamic cultures throughout this story. Both religions share some common roots, but are distinct. I think Wecker does an excellent job approaching the more mystical elements of these theologies and cultures without making them seem silly or simply superstitious There is nothing I hate more than when writer’s depict religious traditions (whether in the present or historical fiction) and only serve to make them look foolish. Thankfully Wecker treats both traditions with the respect they deserve. Small confession – Before I started reading I thought this was the story of two characters, the Golem and the Jinni. But it is actually the interwoven tale of many. I liked the way Helene Wecker blended them all together. One perspective would bleed into another as if it were the most natural thing in the world. They truly felt as though they were one whole – one story. As opposed to books like Game of Thrones where everything is interconnected but the different points of view seem so separate and disconnected from one another. As if you were reading a series of stories that happen to intersect at some points. The Golem and the Jinni is an ensemble piece. Each character needs one another is order to continue on. Of all the characters however I think the Golem was my favourite. I liked the Jinni too but Chava seemed to experience more growth throughout the course of the novel and struggled with more interesting (to me) dilemmas For example, wanting to please everyone or trying to maintain your independence in a sea of others. As opposed to the Jinni’s need to learn responsibility and to become less selfish. Both are fascinating and I think different people will be drawn to one or the other depending on what mood they’re in or what themes/ideas interest them. Recommendation: The Golem and the Jinni is one of those beautiful books that only come around every so often. I think I could talk forever about this book but only scratch the surface of why it’s wonderful. If you love rich, detailed, thematic writing with a touch of fantasy and mysticism thrown in The Golem and the Jinni is absolutely the book for you. This and other reviews at More Than Just Magic (
Date published: 2013-07-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from It was a good read but left me wanting at the end When I started reading this book, I found myself saying 'wow, what have a found here!'. Golem and the Jinni was a refreshingly unique idea for a story and the characters were interesting. The writing style was great and you felt yourself wanting to find out what would happen to these characters and cheering them on to a happy ending. Great read. The only downfall to me would be the ending which felt slightly rushed and confusing. I wouldn't say the ending was completely satisfying and after enjoying the entire book, it left me feeling a bit disappointed, which is the worst feeling when you read a good book. A better ending would have made this a classic story for me.
Date published: 2013-06-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a magical debut The Golem and The Jinni is Helen Wecker's debut novel.....and oh boy, what a debut! We're quite used to books about 'supernatural' beings - vampires, werewolves, witches and more. But Wecker's two protagonists aren't as 'famous'. Otto Rotfield wants a wife to take with him when he emigrates to America. But, he wants her to fit the mold he has imagined. To that end, he approaches a man steeped in mystery and asks him to create a Golem - a creature made entirely of clay and destined to serve its master's every command. She is a masterpiece. When Otto falls ill on the boat journey, he manages to animate the Golem before he dies. And so this creature lands in New York City in 1899, uninformed as to the ways of the world, how to behave, what to expect and how she will hide among the humans. It is her good luck that an old rabbi recognizes her for what she is - and takes her in. Not far away in Little Syria (Lower Manhattan) a local woman brings a battered copper flask to the neighbourhood metalworker for repair. When he erases one of the intricate designs that encircle the guessed it - a Jinni is released. The Jinni faces the same challenges as that of the Golem - he has been trapped in the flask for thousands of years. And chance being what it is, these two beings - one of earth and one of fire - meet, and each recognizes that the other is not of this world. Their lives are entwined in ways they could not imagine....and someone else is watching them... Oh, where to start! The setting is beautifully brought to life by Wecker. The lives of immigrants, the wealthy, the tenements, daily life, night life, attractions such as Central Park and more provide a rich and detailed background for Wecker's novel. The Golem and the Jinni are both mythical creatures, but Wecker's writing made them very real and 'human'. I found myself so caught up in their story, rooting for them and hoping they would find happiness. The supporting cast of characters is just as well drawn and equally compelling. This was such a unique and different idea for a novel. Middle Eastern mysticism mixed with Jewish folklore and dipped into New York City's rich history. And under Wecker's skillful pen, it really works. But such is the stuff of magical stories - dastardly villains, good vs. evil, sacrifice, love won and lost, fast friendships and more. And this is the feeling that Helene Wecker's novel gave me - that I was sitting in a beautiful silk tent somewhere in the desert, reclining on pillows and listening to Scheherazade spin one of her 1001 tales. I was enthralled from first page to last. Wecker has truly woven a magical debut.
Date published: 2013-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magical AND Realistic I was drawn into the story from the first page. This is a story that contains magic, yes, but don't let that put you off if you don't normally read 'paranormal'. It's not overwhelming. It's very believable. This is at it's heart, a story of two immigrants to NY in 1899. They are alone and don't fit in, even more than most. The Golem and The Jinni have very different personalities and natures but they also have a lot in common. The supporting characters are equally as interesting and have solid background stories. The author, Helene Wecker, has written a rich, detailed and somehow soothing story, about making a new life for oneself when it seems difficult and sometimes even impossible (which is true for any immigrant, perhaps). I really cannot recommend this highly enough. It's beautiful, right down to the font (look closely, it's got a style that suits the Jinni perfectly).
Date published: 2013-05-15

Editorial Reviews

“Her story is so inventive, so elegantly written, so well-constructed, it is hard to believe that it is her first novel…The books is so good that I wonder if there was some other-worldly power involved in its creation.”