Author: Helene Wecker
Title: The Golem and the Jinni
Narrator: George Guidall
Publication Info: Blackstone Audiobooks (2014)
This engaging novel is set in the immigrant communities of lower Manhattan circa 1900. A woman made of clay – a golem named Chava – finds herself stranded alone in the Lower East Side after the man who would’ve been her master dies on the passage across the Atlantic. A jinni named Ahmad is freed from a metal flask after 1000 years of captivity to fin himself at a tinsmith in Little Syria. Both Chava and Ahmad have to find ways to fit in with their human society, but it’s interesting that Chava, created to be a slave, has trouble adjusting to having free will, while Ahmad, once a powerful king, has to adjust to his more humble circumstances. That they meet and befriend one another is no surprise, and it’s a relationship that proves mutually beneficial. In many ways this is an immigrant tale within a magical realism setting. Eventually, an old antagonist arrives, and the golem and the jinni need to fight to save themselves, which I understand is necessary to create conflict and resolution, but ultimately I enjoy the earlier parts of the novel where they are establishing themselves and finding their place better. There is a host of endearing supporting characters including Rabbi Meyer who recognizes Chava as a golem and takes her under his wing and Boutros Arbeely who forms a partnership with Ahmad in tinsmithing. Guidall does some incredible voicework bringing all the characters to life in the audiobook.