August 23, 2010
Paulo Coelho's "The Alchemist" - Provides a Recipe for Cleansing the Soul.
I was impressed by "The Alchemist"s reputation as the 'most translated book by a living author'; one which has been translated into 56 languages since the time it was written in Portuguese by Paulo Coelho in 1988. "The Alchemist" is a fairly short, feel-good read, that I managed to start and finish on my return flight to the USA.
The novel is about the journey of young Santiago, searching for a treasure that is going to change his life. There is an aura of mysticism and traces of Sufi thought that Coelho often draws upon to explain some of the events that confront Santiago along the way. For Santiago, as for the reader, the plot of the novel provides for introspection, both of who delve into their inner being and question their actions and the outcomes thereof. Somehow, this reminded me of Richard Bach's allegorical novel, "Jonathan Livingston Seagull", though, unlike "The Alchemist", I really liked Bach's novel. Given the metaphorical and philosophical nature of Coelho's novel, the plot appears incidental at times. For me, this was a dampener. An engaging plot-line is, perhaps, the mainstay of any great fiction, and the plot of "The Alchemist" did come loose to accommodate certain profundities that Coelho wanted to include in his soup-for-the-soul writing.
Paul Coelho is a highly acclaimed writer, and my post does not mean to take away from that; I may not have enjoyed this book as much due to a timing issue: I may have read The Alchemist at a time when life felt fair, and my motivation levels were pretty high. The novel may be a perfect read for some,one who is at a low ebb and feels the need for a motivational booster. "The Alchemist" is about finding oneself, and, even though not a trend setter in any way, does provide manna for lost or demotivated souls.