Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Zahir by Paulo Coelho

The Zahir

By Paulo Coelho

HarperCollinsPublishers; 2005


Coelho’s latest novel 'O Zahir' reaches the Brazilian bookstores on April 2nd 2005. It is already the number one in the bestseller lists of all 83 countries in which it has been released; the only exception is in Germany, where it is number two, behind Da Vinci Code (another great novel). O Zahir was published in 83 countries and in 42 languages throughout the globe.

The story is about a renowned author who discovers that his wife, a war correspondent, has disappeared, leaving no trace. Was she kidnapped, blackmailed, or simply bored with their marriage? The unrest she causes is as strong as the attraction she exerts.

Though time brings more success and new love, he remains mystified – and increasingly fascinated – by her absence.

According to writer Jorge Luis Borges, the idea of Zahir comes from the Islamic tradition. Zahir, in Arabic means visibility, present, incapable of going unnoticed. It is someone or something which, once we have come into contact with them, gradually occupies our every thought, until we can think of nothing else.

When Coelho was young, his parent thought I was psychotic and sent him to an asylum.
Paulo Coelho has led an extreme rebellious during his youth. Coelho escaped from the asylum three times and was eventually released in 1967. He then enrolled in Law School, only to drop out to become a hippy. He also wrote popular song lyrics for some of Brazil's famous pop music stars, including Elis Regina and Raul Seixas. Shortly after, he worked as a journalist.

Before realising that writing was his "destiny", he enrolled in law school, dropped out to become a hippy, and for several years wrote lyrics for Raul Seixas, the Brazilian rock star. Then, in 1974, Coelho was arrested for "subversive" activities by the ruling militia (the authorities saw Coelho's lyrics - some of them influenced by the teaching of the satanist Aleister Crowley - as left-wing and dangerous). He was bundled into a car, taken to a secret headquarters and tortured with electric shocks to his genitals.

Coelho's books all tend to feature some sort of spiritual quest, written in accessibly pared-down language which leads the reader inexorably towards a thumping great moral climax.

His search for her – and for the truth of his own life – takes him from France to Spain, Croatia and, eventually, the bleakly beautiful landscape of Central Asia. More than that, it takes him from the safety of his world to a totally unknown path, searching for a new understanding of the nature of love and the power of destiny.

With The Zahir, Paulo Coelho demonstrates not just his powerful and captivating storytelling, but also his extraordinary insight into what it is to be a human being in a world full of possibility.

The story is basically non-fiction as it truly reflects the journey of life of Coelho himself.

My opinion: not of the same quality as Alchemist and The Pilgrimage, or even Eleven Minutes.


JSPH said...

I agree with your final comment.

sanjay said...

iz deeper thn any other from coelho in d spiritual sense