Thursday, December 06, 2007


It took him only two weeks to write The Alchemist in 1987. It is about a man who dreams that he must leave home to find a treasure and, upon arriving at this destination, discovers that the treasure is in fact buried all along in his native land.

Since then, the book has been translated into sixty-four languages and has sold more than twenty million copies. A movie deal has also been acquired in which Laurence Fishburne -- who played Morpheus in the movie The Matrix -- will star as the alchemist. Fishburne also wrote the script and will direct.

The New Yorker's profile of Paolo Coelho points out that his special talent lies in his ability to speak to everyone at once. And that the kind of spirituality he espouses is open to all comers. Moreover, his plots tend to be allegorical in which many readers can connect with -- seeing their own lives in his books. But of most interest is that many readers find Coelho's prose to be unadorned and pleasant. The actress Julia Roberts in a 2001 television documentary about Coelho said, "It's like music, really, the way that he writes, it's so beautiful."

A history professor at the University of Passo Fundo and one of the few Brazilian critics who does not reflexively dismiss Coelho, Mario Maestri, has written, "In spite of belonging to different genres, Coelho's narratives and self-help books have the same fundamental effect: of anesthetizing the alienated consciousness through the consoling reaffirmation of conventions and prevailing prejudices. Fascinated by his discoveries, the Coelhist reader explores the familiar, breaks down doors already open, and gets mired in sentimental, tranquilizing, self-centered, conformist, and spellbinding visions of the world that imprisons him. When he finishes a book, he wants another one that will be different but absolutely the same."

Paolo Coelho's books include eight novels, two memoirs, several collections of occasional writing, a volume of quotations, and Warrior of the Light: A Manual, a book of platitudes. His books have sold nearly a hundred million copies.


posted by Señor Enrique at 4:33 AM


Blogger nutart said...

Hello, Eric!

I read a lot of spiritual books and some I find quite cerebral...too much analyzing the spiritual side of us like surgeons. I notice that Westerners are quite prone to it which is why i look first at the name of the author and read his profile so I know where he is coming from. Coelho is Brazilian and naturally the message of his is usually "seize the day". I usually have a tough time putting putting his books down when I read them because I like his style of expressing spiritual truths out---easy and melodious like a Brazilian samba :-). Ironically, I get to read his books because they were lent to me by our German neighbor who happens to be a very "serious" artist :-)...who may have opted to stay in the Philippines because of Coelho ;-).

December 06, 2007 8:52 AM  

Anonymous kyels said...

Coelho is one of my favorite authors. His books are often inspiring in many ways; whether direct or indirectly. The first book of his many sets that I bought was Veronika Decides to Die and it taught me significantly how to appreciate life even more.

Besides Coelho, I like Mitch Albom too because his books are inspiring as well. Sometimes reading all these books can make you tear because of realisation.


December 06, 2007 10:10 AM  

Blogger pusa said...

i sooo love paolo coelho! after reading the alchemist i just knew i have to read all his books. yes, he's very gifted and i really love the way he tells his stories.

wow didnt know that he wrote the alchemist in just 2 weeks!!!

December 06, 2007 10:42 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

"The Alchemist" was given to me by a very good friend, Bernadette, as a book to read during my NYC to Manila flight when I first came back to visit after many years of absence.

Like you, I have always enjoyed reading books on spirituality from Zen to gnosticism, and from Gary Zukav to various writers of the New Thought movement. Somehow, I find them soothing, especially in times of uncertainty.

Yes, there's something distinctly comforting and fluid with the way Coelho writes. And so accessible :)

You're indeed blessed to have a kindred spirit for a neighbor.

December 06, 2007 1:18 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

"The "Alchemist" was the very first I have of his, Kyels.

Come to think of it, I always keep it near my bed, for I enjoy browsing through its pages, especially whenever unable to sleep immediately. Many of his passages make wonderful subject matters to meditate upon.

December 06, 2007 1:23 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

The accompanying photo to this entry was taken inside an art gallery, Pusa. When he brought out a small painting by a local artist he adores, I enjoyed seeing the wide smile on his face when I said about the painting (in which the theme is about chasing a dream), "Wow! It's so Coelho!"

A wonderful writer he definitely is, but what makes him click, I think, is that he reminds us that:

1) Always be true to our dream,

2) It is in fact attainable.

And to borrow from Kyels, di ba?

December 06, 2007 1:28 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

I like Coelho's books but I also agree with Mario Maestri... "breaking down doors already open"...
Sorry Kyels but Mitch Albom is the same kind of writer... you enjoy reading his books but afterwards you realize it is a bit too sentimental and lacks some depth...

December 06, 2007 8:04 PM  

Blogger mimi said...

na marathon ko na ata ang lahat ng books nya.. hangang sa "the devil and miss prym"...

hindi ko alam anong nadulot sa buhay ko, pero maybe unconsciously di ko napapansin na meron.. nag stop nako hanggang sa miss prym.

na appreciate ko talaga ang by the river piedra at ang veronica decides to die. ^_^ cool!

December 06, 2007 11:47 PM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...

"Alchemist" is what we call our bootlegger riding buddy(short for alcohol chemist) We also call him bootleg J...because he's a part owner of a small winery here in California. We always look forward to his invitations for weekends at his winery to consume some of the surplus wine and chesse they normally dispose in the recycling bins.

I like the colors of the photograph.

December 07, 2007 12:42 AM  

Blogger g_mirage said...

I sooooo love this kind of photo! But was I amazed when I read that it is actually a painting! I really like the mediterranean feel. I have set of photos endeavoured for doors and windows, too bad no one appreciates them lol, I guess I have to practice more =D

A friend gave me The Alchemist as a parting gift for my Vienna trip. Is indeed a good read. Like you, this is my first Coelho book, unfortunately also the last...

December 07, 2007 3:43 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I should proofread my comments prior to posting, GMirage :)

What I meant was that this image is a photograph taken of the interior of an art gallery in which its owner brought out a painting that reminded me immediately of Coelho's passages.

Yes, his book is definitely a good read.

December 07, 2007 6:29 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, Pete!

Hey, have you tried the Ilocano wine, basi?

December 07, 2007 6:30 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Whoa! You're a fan of his all right, Mimi! What a voracious reader you are :)

December 07, 2007 6:31 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Embarrassed to admit, Sidney, that I'm not familiar with Mitch Albom's writings, but now I do with your brief critique :)


December 07, 2007 6:33 AM  

Blogger g_mirage said...

ooppss...sorry I misunderstood. (Trotzdem) The photo is a really womderful shot!

December 07, 2007 8:04 AM  

Blogger luna miranda said...

Nice photo, Eric. It makes me think of a Greek village by the sea. :-)

Read a couple of Coelho's books, the first was By the River Piedra a few years ago. The last one I read was Eleven Minutes---the story was different from the rest of his books but the context is the same. It's about a girl from Brazil who became a prostitute in Geneva.

I agree with Mestri. Reading Coelho is like reading your own thoughts and ideas that have been in your head for so long.

December 07, 2007 1:51 PM  

Blogger Nashei said...

i just finished reading his book "eleven minutes" and i love it!!! i love coelho's books unfortunately i wasnt able to finished "the witch of portobello" i gave up after a few chapters because i find it boring.

December 07, 2007 5:48 PM  

Blogger Andrey said...

I'm also a big Paulo Coelho's fan and I don't know if you heard about his blog
I've started as a fan and now I'm collaborating with him and thought that you would like to enter his universe.
Check the blog.
if you want, or subscribe to his newsletter
You'll see a community of warriors of light sharing ideas, dreams and most importantly following their personal legend.


When a Warrior of Light is the victim of some injustice, he usually tries to be alone,
in order not to show his pain to others. (Warrior of Light)

See u there and have a great day!


December 08, 2007 12:58 AM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...

Basi is the local rice wine? I have consumed many of our local spirits. Tuba(yikes!), Lambanog (whew!) Sin Hoc Tong(blaah!)Basi(hmmmnmm) Sweet Basi, a local beverage sold mostly on the highway/roadsides going north and north east,in recycled vinegar bottles buried in chunk ice mixed with the rice husks, good thirst quenchers!

December 08, 2007 1:37 AM  

Blogger Francesca said...


I just blog today about a girl in a train reading a Paul Coelho, book!!!
i didnt know who is he, until i visit your site!!!!

Matter of coincidence...

December 08, 2007 7:58 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Wow! That's some fine coincidence, indeed, Francesca! Thank you for sharing :)

December 08, 2007 11:05 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I think it's an Ilocano wine concocted from sugar cane, Pete. Had a taste of it the other night at a party to commemorate the Basi Revolt. Madam was there, but I don't think she had even a sip. Beauty regimen, I guess, hehehe.

December 08, 2007 11:07 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

"When a Warrior of Light is the victim of some injustice, he usually tries to be alone, in order not to show his pain to others."

How auspicious. I certainly need to read this. Thank you so much, Andrey.

You are collaborating with him? Whoa! The universe has certainly conspired to shower you with such fine blessing :)

Good luck!

December 08, 2007 11:10 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I think that's a common trait among artists, Nashei -- up and down cycle. In other words, a work or two may not be up to par with the rest.

December 08, 2007 11:12 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, Luna!

Wow! I'm impressed. You guys are really well-read, huh?

December 08, 2007 11:14 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

That's quite all rigth, G. Mirage. Problem is, I think much faster than I type; thus some omitted or misspelled words :)

December 08, 2007 11:15 AM  

Blogger luna miranda said...

A relative once suggested that my sister, a cousin, aunts and myself should start a support group like AA...readers' anonymous? hahaha

'To read is to travel without moving an inch.'

December 08, 2007 2:51 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

That's amusing, Luna.

But reading and listening to music are the two most transporting preoccupations that can be enjoyed in one's cozy room.

December 08, 2007 3:10 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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