The Zahir: Book summary and reviews of The Zahir by Paulo Coelho

The Zahir

A Novel of Obsession

by Paulo Coelho

The Zahir
  • Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Sep 2005
    320 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Set in Paris and in the enchanting landscape of central Asia, this new novel by the author of the international bestsellers The Alchemist and Eleven Minutes follows the journey of a man obsessed with finding the wife who left him without an explanation.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

'Coelho explores various meanings of love and life, but the impact of these lessons is diminished significantly as they are repeated in various forms by various characters - then again, 65 million readers can't be wrong' - PW.
'Interwoven with details drawn from his life, the mesmerizing narrative offers a highly personal meditation on the meaning and the power of love.' - Booklist.

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Cloggie Downunder

dull
The Zahir is the sixth stand-alone book by Brazil-born author, Paulo Coelho. It is translated from Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa. Esther, a journalist and the wife of a best-selling author disappears from their home in Paris. Once the police release him from custody, dismissing the idea that he may have been responsible, he begins to wonder what has happened. He is soon convinced that she left him voluntarily, despite her occasionally dangerous job as a war correspondent. For two years, he remains obsessed about learning the reason she left him.

The first thing the narrator does is find himself a girlfriend. Then, suitably catered for sexually, he laments his inability to understand why his wife left him. As the narrator (eventually, after more than two years) sets about looking for her, the tale is filled with waffle about finding oneself, pure divine energy, spiritual journey, and energy of love flowing around the world. Much of it seems to be a vehicle for expressing the author’s opinion about topics like wealth, sex and fidelity, marriage, and power.

From the narrator’s history it would seem that this story is largely autobiographical. The author must have quite some charisma in person, because on paper his attitude and arrogance are unappealing. The dialogue is wooden (although perhaps this is a function of the translation); the prose is dull; much of the story feels contrived. This book might appeal to men of a Latin background who fancy themselves on a spiritual journey.

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Author Information

Paulo Coelho Author Biography

Xavier Gonzales

Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 1970, after deciding that law school was not for him, he traveled through much of South America, North Africa, Mexico, and Europe. Returning to Brazil after two years, he began a successful career as a popular songwriter. In 1974, he was imprisoned for a short time by the military dictatorship then ruling in Brazil.

In 1988, Coelho published The Alchemist, which has sold more than 11 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 41 languages. He has written more than a dozen novels, including The Pilgrimage and Veronika Decides to Die, both of which are being adapted to film.

Coelho is an outspoken activist for peace and social justice, and also supports the free distribution of his work. He and his wife Christina split their ...

... Full Biography
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Name Pronunciation
Paulo Coelho: POW-loo KWAY-lew

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