“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.
One of the most prolific writers of the modern era, Paulo Coehlo, born on August 24, 1947 came from a family which did not take too kindly with his wishes of becoming an author. Hailing from a family where the main male member was an engineer, Coelho’s opposition to following a traditional path would see his parents committing him to a mental institution from which he escaped thrice before being released at the age of 20. Coelho would later enroll in law school, only to abandon it and live the life of a hippie, travelling through South America, North Africa, Mexico, and Europe.
Paulo Coelho published his first book in 1982 called Hell Archives which did not create much impact. Incidentally, he penned The Alchemist in 1988, and while it made an initial print run of 900 copies, the Brazilian publishing house tasked with printing it decided on no reprints. It was only after the publication of Brida by a bigger publishing house did The Alchemist take off and there was no looking back for the author.
On the author's 72nd birthday, here's looking at 5 novels written by Paulo Coelho that one must read.
The Alchemist (1988)
The allegorical novel, originally written in Portuguese, follows a young Andalusian shepherd in his journey to the pyramids of Egypt, after having a recurring dream of finding a treasure there. According to the author, he had written the novel in a span of two weeks in 1987 and is based on the theme about finding one's destiny.
Veronika Decides to Die (1998)
The novel tells the story of a 24-year-old Slovenian woman named Veronika, who appears to have everything in life going for her, but who decides to kill herself. Notably, it is believed that the book is partly based on the author's experiences in various mental institutions as a young adult and deals with the subject of clinical insanity.
Eleven Minutes (2003)
The novel recounts the experiences of a young Brazilian prostitute and her journey to self-realization through sexual experience. Notably, the book explores the sacred nature of sex as compared to sex for money.
The Witch of Portobello (2006)
The book is about a woman born in Transylvania to a Romani mother in a gypsy tribe outside marriage. She is abandoned by her birth mother because the father was a foreigner and later adopted by a wealthy Lebanese couple. The novel too deals with the protagonist's search for identity.
The Spy (2016)
The novel is told in Mata Hari's voice through her final letter, tracing her journey as a penniless woman in Paris who become the most celebrated woman in the city. However, a world consumed by war saw her brought under suspicion and ultimately arrested for espionage. The novel is an unforgettable story of a woman who dared to defy conventions and paid dearly for it.
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