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Best of Paulo Coelho: In the Shadow of ‘The Alchemist’

Paulo Coelho


Fatin Hamama


The simplest yet lyrical, gracefully metrical dialogues intertwining themselves in a strand of melodies that speak of the most beautiful philosophies of life through gossamer symbolism…I’m talking about neither music, nor poetry—but the books written by Paulo Coelho. Be it his globally acknowledged bestseller The Alchemist, or lesser known works, such as Aleph or Manuscript Found in Accra, he doesn’t disappoint when it comes to keeping his readers under a trance by channeling what feels a lot like magic through his literary creations. 

As a tribute to this wonderful Brazilian novelist and lyricist on his 73rd birthday, here’s a list made up of some of his best works till date.

 

The Winner Stands Alone

The protagonist and villain, Igor, intends to win back his superstar, fashionista ex wife—by morphing into a serial killer, because he believes it to be the only way to express his ardor and love.

The Winner Stands Alone – Paulo Coelho

A scintillating and highly compassionate thriller; this book attains a momentous magnitude within a comparably short page count. Paulo Coelho once again proves how truly candid he is at delicately building each and every character by visualising their transition from who they used to be and who they finally become—almost like chipping away at a stone patiently until there emerges a piece of art.

 

Brida

A young woman who sets out on a quest for knowledge in order to become a witch, is taught to overcome fears by a mage living in a forest, to dance in rhythm with the world to beseech the moon by a magician. But much as this sounds like a fantasy aloof with elements that don’t exist in reality, it’s more about a journey into the progression of the human soul.

Brida – Paulo Coelho

Something that one should keep in mind is that this book has a lot of references regarding God. However, it’s equally logical regardless of whether one views the storyline from a religious or a spiritual point of view, which is great.

 

Veronika Decides to Die

She has everything one could possibly wish for in their youth. A stable job, a loving family, a number of admirers, and so on. Yet, it feels as if her life had come to a standstill and has no purpose of moving forward anymore, which is why she decides to die, by swallowing sleeping pills. However, when she wakes up in a mental hospital—alive but with a few days to live—everything is turned upside down.

Veronika Decides to Die – Paulo Coelho

Personally, this is my most favourite Coelho novel of all time. It sends out a beautiful message about life and why it’s worth living, but it does so while weaving a beautiful tale of the mortality of humans and the immortality of their capabilities. Not to mention that the ending is simply perfect.

 

The Spy

A woman who arrived in a big city with no pennies, but became a widely celebrated figure—mesmerising as a dancer and enthralling as a courtesan. When the trepidation of WWl gripped the country, she was convicted of espionage. This is the story of Mata Hari, a woman out of time, a woman who lived beyond the borders of convention and paid the ultimate price, but without flinching.

The Spy – Paulo Coelho

Shifting among the perspective of Mata Hari, some documents and her attorney, this is a novel that’s insightful, impactful, and terrifying at the same time. However, it’s sort of disappointing that it ended with her lawyer’s perspective instead of her own. But once you’ve flicked through the first few pages, The Spy becomes unputdownable. 

 

Hippie

It’s basically an autobiography of Paulo Coelho himself, narrated in third person— which takes the readers back to when hippie paradises began to emerge everywhere, consisting mostly of the generation that spoke up for peace and liberation while questioning the faulty social order. This is a story of Paulo and Karla, both in search of their identities and their place in the world.

Hippie – Paulo Coelho

Hippie is a beautiful tale of love, friendship, and travel. It speaks of the time when hippies weren’t the people you got to see every other day, but the people who took the initiative to change the way we look at life and preach the fact that we have the right to think outside the box, have diverse outlooks on ideologies, and share it with the world.

 

Sure, Coelho’s The Alchemist is a phenomenal work of literature, and that’s exactly why it’s not in this list. The books mentioned above are filled with the signature essence of Paulo Coelho’s genius storytelling, and for once I wanted to give them a place where they’re not overshadowed by the aforementioned book. Do pick some of them up if you have the time, as all of them are filled with remarkably kinetic dynamics and provide uncomplicated, yet compelling insights into topics that are otherwise, deemed intense.

 


The writer is a part of the TDA Editorial Team. 

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