Paulo Coelho: The Confessions of a Pilgrim (1999)

Paulo Coelho, Confessions of a Pilgrim offers the readers a chance to get to know Paulo Coelho's dramatic, inspirational life story for the first time. Coelho has always been a non-conformist, constantly searching for new paths and savouring both the good and the bad that came his way. This intimate portrait by Juan Arias offers Paulo's compelling fist-hand accounts of his experiences of: being confined to a mental institution as a young man simply because he was an artist , being kidnapped and tortured by paramilitaries , his encounters with black magic and drugs , an epiphany at Dachau , a vision he had of his own death , the nature of writing and the spiritual quest . Juan Arias is an established writer and journalist for the newspaper “El Pais” in Spain. He has received an Italian Culture Prize for his writing and was awarded best Foreign Correspondent for his journalism.

Veronika Decides to Die (1998)

On 11 November 1997, Veronika decided that the moment to kill herself had – at last! – arrived. She carefully cleaned the room that she rented in a convent, turned off the heating, brushed her teeth and lay down.

She picked up the four packs of sleeping pills from her bedside table. Instead of crushing them and mixing them with water, she decided to take them one by one, because there is always a gap between intention and action, and she wanted to feel free to turn back half way. However, with each pill she swallowed, she felt more convinced: after five minutes the packs were empty.

Since she didn't know exactly how long it would take her to lose consciousness, she had placed on the bed that month's issue of a French magazine, Homme, which had just arrived in the library where she worked. She had no particular interest in computer science, but, as she leafed through the magazine, she came across an article about a computer game (one of those CD-Roms), created by Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian writer she had happened to meet at a lecture in the café at the Grand Union Hotel. They had exchanged a few words and she had ended up being invited by his publisher to join them for supper. There were a lot of people there, though, and they hadn't had a chance to talk in depth about anything.

The fact that she had met the author, however, led her to think that he was part of her world, and that reading an article about his work could help pass the time.

While she was waiting for death, Veronika started reading about computer science, a subject in which she was not in the least bit interested, but then that was in keeping with what she had done all her life, always looking for the easy option, for whatever was nearest to hand. Like that magazine, for example.

To her surprise, though, the first line of text shook her out of her natural passivity (the tranquillizers had not yet dissolved in her stomach, but Veronika was, by nature, passive), and, for the first time in her life, it made her ponder the truth of a saying that was very fashionable amongst her friends: ‘nothing in this world happens by chance'.

Why that first line, at precisely the moment when she had begun to die? What was the hidden message she saw before her, assuming there are such things as hidden messages rather than mere coincidences.

Underneath an illustration of the computer game, the journalist began his article by asking: ‘Where is Slovenia?'

‘Honestly,' she thought, ‘no one ever knows where Slovenia is.'

But Slovenia existed nonetheless, and it was outside, inside, in the mountains around her and in the square she was looking out at: Slovenia was her country.

She put the magazine to one side, there was no point now in getting indignant with a world that knew absolutely nothing about the Slovenes; her nation's honour no longer concerned her. It was time to feel proud of herself, to recognise that she had been able to do this, that she had finally had the courage and was leaving this life: what joy! Also she was doing it as she had always dreamed she would – by taking sleeping pills, which leave no mark.

Veronika had been trying to get hold of the pills for nearly six months. Thinking that she would never manage it, she had even considered slashing her wrists. It didn't matter that the room would end up awash with blood, and the nuns would be left feeling confused and troubled, for suicide demands that people think of themselves first and of others later. She was prepared to do all she could so that her death would cause as little upset as possible, but if slashing her wrists was the only way, then she had no option – and the nuns could clean up the room and quickly forget the whole story, otherwise they would find it hard to rent out the room again. We may live at the end of the twentieth century, but people still believe in ghosts.

Obviously she could have thrown herself off one of the few tall buildings in Ljubljana, but what about the further suffering caused to her parents by a fall from such a height? Apart from the shock of learning that their daughter had died, they would also have to identify a disfigured corpse; no, that was a worse solution than bleeding to death, because it would leave indelible marks on two people who only wanted the best for her.

‘They would get used to their daughter's death eventually. But it must be impossible to forget a shattered skull.'

Shooting, jumping off a high building, hanging, none of these options suited her feminine nature. Women, when they kill themselves, choose far more romantic methods – like slashing their wrists or taking an overdose of sleeping pills. Abandoned princesses and Hollywood actresses have provided numerous examples of this.

Veronika knew that life was always a matter of waiting for the right moment to act. And so it proved. In response to her complaints that she could no longer sleep at night, two friends of hers managed to get hold of two packs each of a powerful drug, used by musicians at a local nightclub. Veronika left the four packs on her bedside table for a week, courting approaching death and saying goodbye – entirely unsentimentally – to what people called Life.

Now she was there, glad she had gone all the way, and bored because she didn't know what to do with the little time that remained to her.

She thought again about the absurd question she had just read. How could an article about computers begin with such an idiotic opening line: ‘Where is Slovenia?'

Having nothing more interesting to do, she decided to read the whole article and she learned that the said computer game had been made in Slovenia – that strange country that no one seemed quite able to place, except the people who lived there – because it was a cheap source of labour. A few months before, when the product was launched, the French manufacturer had given a party for journalists from all over the world in a castle in Vled.

Veronika remembered reading something about the party, which had been quite an event in the city, not just because the castle had been redecorated in order to match as closely as possible the medieval atmosphere of the CD-Rom, but because of the controversy in the local press: journalists from Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Spain had been invited, but not a single Slovene.

Homme's correspondent – who was visiting Slovenia for the first time, doubtless with all expenses paid, and determined to spend his visit chatting up other journalists, making supposedly interesting comments and enjoying the free food and drink at the castle – had decided to begin his article with a joke which must have appealed to the sophisticated intellectuals of his country. He had probably told his fellow journalists on the magazine various untrue stories about local customs too, and said how badly Slovene women dress.

That was his problem. Veronika was dying, and she had other concerns, such as wondering if there was life after death, or when her body would be found. Nevertheless – or perhaps precisely because of the important decision she had taken – the article bothered her.

She looked out of the convent window that gave on to the small square in Ljubljana. ‘If they don't know where Slovenia is, then Ljubljana must be a myth,' she thought. Like Atlantis or Lemuria, or the other lost continents that fill men's imaginations. No one, anywhere in the world, would begin an article asking where Mount Everest was, even if they had never been there. Yet, in the middle of Europe, a journalist on an important magazine felt no shame at asking such a question, because he knew that most of his readers would not know where Slovenia was, still less its capital, Ljubljana.

It was then that Veronika found a way of passing the time, now that ten minutes had gone by and she had still not noticed any bodily changes. The final act of her life would be to write a letter to the magazine, explaining that Slovenia was one of the five republics into which the former Yugoslavia had been divided.

The letter would be her suicide note. She would give no explanation of the real reasons for her death.

When they found her body, they would conclude that she had killed herself because a magazine did not know where her country was. She laughed to think of the controversy in the newspapers, with some for and some against her suicide committed in honour of her country's cause. And she was shocked by how quickly she could change her mind, since only moments before she had thought exactly the opposite, that the world and other geographical problems were no longer her concern.

She wrote the letter. That moment of good humour almost made her have second thoughts about the need to die, but she had already taken the pills, it was too late to turn back.

Anyway, she had had such moments before and, besides, she was not killing herself because she was a sad, embittered woman, constantly depressed. She had spent many afternoons walking gaily along the streets of Ljubljana or gazing – from the window in her convent room – at the snow falling on the small square with its statue of the poet. Once, for almost a month, she had felt as if she were walking on air, all because a complete stranger, in the middle of that very square, had given her a flower.

She believed herself to be completely normal. Two very simple reasons lay behind her decision to die, and she was sure that, were she to leave a note explaining, many people would agree with her.

The first reason: everything in her life was the same and, once her youth was gone, it would be downhill all the way, with old age beginning to leave irreversible marks, the onset of illness, the departure of friends. She would gain nothing by continuing to live; indeed, the likelihood of suffering only increased.

The second reason was more philosophical: Veronika read the newspapers, watched TV, and she was aware of what was going on in the world. Everything was wrong, and she had no way of putting things right – that gave her a sense of complete powerlessness.

In a short while, though, she would have the final experience of her life, which promised to be very different: death. She wrote the letter to the magazine, then abandoned the topic, and concentrated on more pressing matters, more appropriate to what she was living, or, rather, dying, through at that moment.

She tried to imagine what it would be like to die, but failed to reach any conclusion.

Besides, there was no point worrying about that, for in a few minutes' time she would know.

How many minutes?

She had no idea. But she relished the thought that she was about to find out the answer to the question that everyone asked themselves: does God exist?

Unlike many people, this had not been the great inner debate of her life. Under the old Communist regime, the official line in schools had been that life ended with death and she had got used to the idea. On the other hand, her parents' generation and her grandparents' generation still went to church, said prayers and went on pilgrimages, and were utterly convinced that God listened to what they said.

At twenty-four, having experienced everything she could experience – and that was no small achievement – Veronika was almost certain that everything ended with death. That is why she had chosen suicide: freedom at last. Eternal oblivion.

In her heart of hearts, though, there was still a doubt: what if God did exist? Thousands of years of civilization had made of suicide a taboo, an affront to all religious codes: man struggles to survive, not to succumb. The human race must procreate. Society needs workers. A couple has to have a reason to stay together, even when love has ceased to exist, and a country needs soldiers, politicians and artists.

‘If God exists, and I truly don't believe he does, he will know that there are limits to human understanding. He was the one who created this confusion in which there is poverty, injustice, greed and loneliness. He doubtless had the best of intentions, but the results have proved disastrous; if God exists, He will be generous with those creatures who chose to leave this Earth early, and he might even apologise for having made us spend time here.'

To hell with taboos and superstitions. Her devout mother would say: God knows the past, the present and the future. In that case, He had placed her in this world in the full knowledge that she would end up killing herself, and He would not be shocked by her actions.

Veronika began to feel a slight nausea, which became rapidly more intense.

In a few moments, she would no longer be able to concentrate on the square outside her window. She knew it was winter, it must have been about four o'clock in the afternoon, and the sun was setting fast. She knew that other people would go on living. At that moment, a young man passed her window and saw her, utterly unaware that she was about to die. A group of Bolivian musicians (where is Bolivia? why don't magazine articles ask that?) were playing in front of the statue of France Preseren, the great Slovenian poet, who had made such a profound impact on the soul of his people.

Would she live to hear the end of that music drifting up from the square? It would be a beautiful memory of this life: the late afternoon, a melody recounting the dreams of a country on the other side of the world, the warm cosy room, the handsome young man passing by, full of life, who had decided to stop and was now standing looking up at her. She realised that the pills were beginning to take effect and that he was the last person who would see her.

He smiled. She returned his smile – she had nothing to lose. He waved; she decided to pretend she was looking at something else, the young man was going too far. Disconcerted, he continued on his way, forgetting that face at the window for ever.

But Veronika was glad to have felt desired by somebody one last time. She wasn't killing herself because of a lack of love. It wasn't because she felt unloved by her family, or had money problems or an incurable disease.

Veronika had decided to die on that lovely Ljubjlana afternoon, with Bolivian musicians playing in the square, with a young man passing by her window, and she was happy with what her eyes could see and her ears hear. She was even happier that she would not have to go on seeing those same things for another thirty, forty or fifty years, because they would lose all their originality and be transformed into the tragedy of a life in which everything repeats itself and where one day is exactly like another.

Her stomach was beginning to churn now and she was feeling very ill indeed. ‘It's odd, I thought an overdose of tranquillizers would send me straight to sleep.' What she was experiencing, though, was a strange buzzing in her ears and a desire to vomit.

‘If I throw up, I won't die.'

She decided not to think about the stabbing pains in her stomach and tried to concentrate on the rapidly falling night, on the Bolivians, on the people who were starting to shut up their shops and go home. The noise in her ears was becoming more and more strident and, for the first time since she had taken the pills, Veronika felt fear, a terrible fear of the unknown.
It did not last long. Soon afterwards, she lost consciousness.

The Zahir (2005)

It begins with a glimpse or a passing thought. It ends in obsession.

One day a renowned author discovers that his wife, a war correspondent, has disappeared, leaving no trace. Though time brings more success and new love, he remains mystified – and increasingly fascinated – by her absence. Was she kidnapped, blackmailed, or simply bored with their marriage? The unrest she causes is as strong as the attraction she exerts.

His search for her – and for the truth of his own life – takes him from France to Spain, Croatia and, eventually, the bleakly beautiful landscape of Central Asia. More than that, it takes him from the safety of his world to a totally unknown path, searching for a new understanding of the nature of love and the power of destiny.
With The Zahir, Paulo Coelho demonstrates not just his powerful and captivating storytelling, but also his extraordinary insight into what it is to be a human being in a world full of possibility.

Like the Flowing Flower (2006)

A transversal cut in the anatomy of Paulo Coelho’s literary work, Be like a river flow compilation of tales, opinions and ideas constitutes a beautiful reflection of the wide creation of the Brazilian writer. Rescued from different periods and publications, the current collection draws the sensitive line followed by the eyes of the creator, stopping on those details of reality and contemplation which distill the subtle philosophy of one who observes existence with the same placidity of gazing at a river. Undoubtedly, with a clear intention of approaching and revealing the mystery and the ways in which a man walks through life.

Telling the story of human beings, with their numerous edges, is what Paulo Coelho considers his mission. Telling what they are and how they are, without necessarily bonding to what they want or to what they pretend. Almost like instant pictures of life. Brief and intense pieces of writing that show us a tiny eternal moment of someone’s living. Just like a boy who writes on his notebook with more awareness of his pen than the content of his tale, simply because everything will depend on the way we look at things.

These are delicate and pure reflections about literature, history, the art of love or the way to become an archer, when repetition turns into intuition, extolling the capacity of the senses. Or about books and libraries, where the ordinary act of choosing contents can project to life in all its most various shades.

The Alchemist : Themes, Motifs, and Symbols

Fate Vs. Will

Fate is constantly intertwined with will, and a key theme of the book focuses on how much in life is under one's control, and how much is controlled by fate. The old king states that the world's greatest lie is that "at some point during our lives, we lose control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate." While this point of view strongly supports that will has a stronger hold on one's destiny, later events, such as Santiago and the alchemist being caught by warring tribes, demonstrate fate's hold on one's life. However, in every situation where fate does take over, the characters are capable to excavate themselves from the situation. For, instance, after being caught by the tribal chief, Santiago is able to turn himself into the wind, demonstrate his power, and is released.


Love is described as a part of the Soul of the World. Love occurs in life and Nature, as everything supports each other, they love each other. Santiago tells the desert that it shows love for the alchemist's falcon by offering it game, after which the falcon shows love to man as it offers the game to eat, and the man shows love for the desert as after one dies, his body is reintegrated into the desert sands. There is also love in people, demonstrated by Santiago's love of Fatima's beauty, and Santiago's knowing that it is part of his Personal Legend to love her. Also, there is true love, a brief definition given by the alchemist; "True love is love that allows you to reach your Personal Legend."

Controlled Luck

The theme of controlled luck is prominent in this book, as the old king and the alchemist both tell Santiago about how if one really wants to fulfill his/her Personal Legend, the whole universe will conspire to help make it happen. Coelho refers to this as the idea of "beginner's luck", or the concept of favorability. Santiago is blessed with beginner's luck, when he decides to go to Africa. He manages to sell all of his sheep very easily, and is given "a taste of success" that whets the appetite to fulfill one's Personal Legend.

Spiritual Enlightenment

In The Alchemist, a kind of spiritual enlightenment is accomplished by fulfilling one's Personal Legend, and adding to the Soul of the World, which is the "light" of most religions (as described in Coelho's Beliefnet Interview). The spiritual influence of this book is omniscient, for example in Santiago's "turning himself into the wind" stunt. He learns the Language of the World, which is basically the language of the Soul of the World. As the Soul of the World is related to the Soul of God, Santiago is able to perform miracles after he has reached into the Soul of the World.

  • Omens
Being able to observe and read omens is a key motif throughout the book. Santiago recognizes the hole in his pouch in which Urim and Thummin fell out of in Tangier as an omen, as he had promised the old king that he would make his own decisions, not let the stones do it for him. The crystal merchant of Tangier recognizes Santiago's presence in the shop as an omen, as two customers came into the shop as he was cleaning the crystals for the merchant. Santiago later finds that going to the desert was a good omen, as he was able to meet Fatima, his love. Santiago reads omens in the flight of two hawks and has a premonition of an attack on the oasis as he is in the Sahara Desert. Omens play a key role in the unraveling of Santiago's fate.
  • Personal Legends
The Personal Legend is a being's reason to live. Everything in the world has a Personal Legend, and by reaching one's Personal Legend, they add to the Soul of the World, the purity of the world. The boy's Personal Legend is obvious, to find his treasure at the Egyptian pyramids. The alchemist fulfilled his Personal Legend, to become a true alchemist and accomplish the Master Work. The crystal merchant's Personal Legend is to visit Mecca, and the Tarifa baker's Personal Legend was to travel the world. The Personal Legend of a person surfaces at childhood, and one can never find true happiness without fulfilling it. The Personal Legend of Santiago drives him to his treasure, as he chose to accomplish his Personal Legend, and the alchemist to become the most famed alchemist in the world. While others like the Tarifa baker and the crystal merchant, choose to ignore the Personal Legend, and thus shape their life to be forever wanting.

  • The Elixir of Life/Philosopher's Stone
The two alchemy objects are physical representations of the Soul of the World, the Master Work, which is the result of completely purifying metals. The Philosopher's Stone, being completely pure and powerful as the Soul of the World, has the property of turning metals into gold, the most advanced ("evolved") and purest of all metals. The Elixir of Life cures all illnesses and gives immortality. These objects represent the purity in the world, and in people trying to reach their Personal Legend.

The Alchemist (novel) by Paulo Coelh

The Alchemist (Portuguese: O Alquimista) is a bestseller that was first published in Brazil in 1988 and is the most famous work of author Paulo Coelho. It is a symbolic story that urges its readers to follow their dreams.

Originally published in 1988, The Alchemist has been translated into 56 languages, and has sold more than 65 million copies in more than 150 countries, and is one of the best selling books in history.

Plot summary

Santiago, the protagonist, grows up with poor parents who struggled their whole lives to send him to seminary. But Santiago has a strong desire to travel the world, and so his father gives him three ancient Spanish coins to buy a flock of sheep.

As a shepherd, he spends several years traveling the countryside of Andalusia in southern Spain, enjoying the care-free and adventurous life of a wanderer. As the story begins, we learn that a year ago Santiago met the beautiful daughter of a merchant in a town he is soon to revisit. Even though he spent only a few hours talking with this girl, his strong feelings for her make him question his life as a shepherd and make him consider the merits of a more settled life. He sleeps in a church where a sycamore tree grew where the sacristy once was (refer to end).

When he arrives in the Tarifa, the port before the town where the girl lives, he first decides to go to a gypsy fortune-teller to help him decipher a recurring dream that he had been having. Santiago dreamt twice that a child is playing with his sheep and then takes him by the hand and brings him to the Pyramids of Egypt to show him the location of a hidden treasure. But Santiago always wakes up just before the child is going to reveal to him the exact location of the treasure. The gypsy says that he has to go because if it is a child that tells, it exists.

At first, the boy does not mind what the gypsy says, but when an old man, who calls himself Melchizedeck, the king of Salem, tells him that it is his Personal Legend or his purpose to live, he is interested. Melchizedeck tells him a wonderful story about a man who found true happiness by fulfilling his Personal Legend. The king gives the boy two stones, Urim and Thummim, one black and the other white, the black meaning "yes" and the white "no". These, he says, are for making decisions, although it is best to make them himself. Santiago decides to travel to Africa. He sells his sheep and goes to Tangier, a port in Africa near Spain. But in Tangier, he is robbed. Losing hope, he decides to walk about the city; up in a hill, and finds a crystal shop. When the boy enters the shop, he cleans the dusty crystal glasses in exchange for some food to eat. As he is cleaning two customers enter the store and buy some crystal glasses. The Arab merchant says that it is a good omen, as business had declined and the boy had attracted two customers, and hires the boy. Santiago learns that every person's fate is written, and that there is a Language of the World (unspoken) learned partly by his dealings with his sheep.

After almost a year, the boy decides to leave the crystal shop since he has enough money to buy a flock of sheep twice the size of the one he had before, and since he has since learned Arabic, can sell to Arabic merchants too. But he never buys a single sheep. He decides to fulfill his personal legend - to find his treasure.

He joins a caravan going to the desert where the Pyramids are found. In the caravan, the boy meets an Englishman who for ten years has searched for true alchemists. The Englishman has many books on alchemy that are unusual to the boy. In the caravan, he learns the language of the desert and the Soul of the World.

As the caravan rolls on toward the oasis, the two people in the caravan decide to learn from one another. As the Englishman attempts to observe the desert and learn its language, Santiago reads the Englishman's books and learns about alchemy. The Englishman tells him that the goal of alchemists is to purify metal by heating it for many years until all its individual properties are burned. After a while, Santiago stops reading and returns the books to the Englishman, and each tells the other he is not able to learn anything. Santiago concludes everyone has his or her own way of learning things.

When it arrives in the oasis, the caravan is welcomed and told that it will not be permitted to proceed further because of tribal wars. There is an Alchemist watching the caravan enter and thinks that the omens had told him his disciple was arriving with this caravan. Santiago helps the Englishman look for the alchemist. He meets a desert woman named Fatima who tells the group where the alchemist lives. The boy falls in love with Fatima's at first sight, and tells her that he loves her and wants her to be his wife. The Alchemist's disciple turns out to be Santiago.

Santiago meets the alchemist after averting a threat of tribal attack on the oasis through a vision he has while watching the flight of two hawks. The alchemist tells the boy that he will never be happy unless he fulfills his Personal Legend. Reluctant to leave the oasis because of his love for the desert girl Fatima, Santiago tells the alchemist that he wants to stay there, accepting the new role of councilor which was offered to him by the chieftain when Santiago saved the oasis by anticipating the nontraditional attack of the tribes. But the alchemist warns Santiago that in the future he would lose his ability to see omens because he stopped listening to the omens that told him to find his treasure and fulfill his Personal Legend. As a result he would lose his position as the councilor and he would regret not pursuing his destiny of finding his treasure.

Eventually, Santiago decides to leave the oasis with the Alchemist in pursuit of his treasure. While traveling through the desert, the boy learns from the Alchemist. He learns that each person who fulfills his personal legend enhances the Soul of the World, and that the world is just here to show God's glory. The alchemist also tells the boy to listen to his heart and understand it so it will not betray him. Santiago and his heart become friends, and Santiago's heart returns to the Soul of the World. Thus, allowing Santiago to understand the Language of the World.

Santiago and the alchemist are captured along the way by one of the warring tribes. The alchemist tells the chief that they have brought money to give to him. The money is accepted without question as it can buy many arms; the alchemist then declares that Santiago is a powerful alchemist and can turn himself into the wind and destroy the military encampment if he wants to. The leader demands to see this; the Alchemist then asks for three days preparation and if they fail he offers their lives. The chief accepts, but tells them they cannot offer their lives as they already belong to him. This is the ultimate test of Santiago's knowledge of alchemy. On the third day, Santiago leads the group to the top of a cliff and tells them that the action will take a while.

Using his knowledge of the Language of the World that he learned from his heart on his journey, Santiago talks to the desert, and teaches it about love, and eventually the desert allows Santiago to use his sands, saying that he would also need the wind to blow them. Santiago turns to the wind, and tells it that it hasn't met its full limits. The wind, curious about what it could do, strikes up a conversation about love with the boy. The wind does not know how to transform Santiago into wind, and suggests the boy talk to the heavens (the sun). The boy tells the wind that it must blow the sands so he will not be blinded when looking at the sun. The boy proceeds to talk to the sun, and after the sun tells him that although he is wise, he doesn't know how to turn Santiago into the wind. The wind, overjoyed that he knows that the sun has its limits, blows even harder.

The "Simum," the sandstorm that results, almost destroys the camp. Two commanders with the chief are fearful and tell him that they should stop this. The chief replies that he wishes to see the greatness of Allah and makes a mental note to remove the two from command as true desert men are not afraid. Santiago is told to talk to the hand that wrote all. The boy turns to the hand that wrote all, as he does so the universe falls silent, he decides to pray. Through his prayer he reaches into the Soul of the World; and sees that the Soul of the World, the Soul of God, and his own soul are all one. Santiago then turns himself into the wind and moves off the cliff to the far side of the camp, he does this as the Soul of God can perform miracles and his soul is the same as the Soul of God.

After turning himself to wind, Santiago and the alchemist travel on to the pyramids with an escort party provided by the general-chief. They stop at a coptic monastery, and the alchemist tells the escort party to return to their camp. There he meets a monk and they talk in the Coptic tongue. The monk invites them in. In the kitchen, the alchemist shows Santiago a demonstration of turning a pot of lead into gold. The alchemist divides the gold into four quarters and gives the monk one of the pieces for his generosity and hospitality. He gives a piece to Santiago, and one for him to return to the oasis. He gives the final piece to the monk for Santiago in case he ever needs it. Santiago and the alchemist talk after they leave the monastery, the Alchemist tells him a story of everybody plays a role in the history of the world. They separate three hours from the pyramids. Santiago's heart tells him that he should dig for his treasure where he weeps after getting to the pyramids of joy.

When Santiago arrives at the pyramids he falls to his knees and cries, where his tears have fallen he sees a Scarab Beetle digging in the sand, an omen. Santiago starts digging in the sand but finds nothing, thieves come and steal his gold and beat him up. Santiago gives up hope, but the robber tells him that he is stupid to have traveled so far. He then tells the boy of a recurring dream in which he had seen a treasure in an abandoned church where shepherds and their sheep slept, hidden under a sycamore tree growing where the sacristy once was. Santiago, who slept in this very same church at the beginning of his adventures, goes back to the monk to get money for the return trip and finds the treasure, a chest of Spanish gold coins. He laughs at the strange way God had chosen to show him his treasure.

Paulo Coelho's Biography

Paulo Coelho is not only one of the most widely read, but also one of the most influential authors writing today.'
The jury of the 2001 'BAMBI Awards', on presenting him with Germany's most prestigious prize.

Photo Caption: Me, Myself and I. View more photos

The Brazilian author PAULO COELHO was born in 1947 in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Before dedicating his life completely to literature, he worked as theatre director and actor, lyricist and journalist.

Coelho wrote song lyrics for many famous performers in Brazilian music, such as Elis Regina and Rita Lee. Yet his most well known work has been done with Raul Seixas. Together they wrote such successes as Eu nasci há dez mil anos atrás (I was born ten thousand years ago), Gita and Al Capone, amongst other 60 songs.

His fascination with the spiritual quest dates back to his hippie days, when he travelled the world learning about secret societies, oriental religions, etc.

In 1982 Coelho published his first book, Hell Archives, which failed to make any kind of impact. In 1985 he contributed to the Practical Manual of Vampirism, although he later tried to take it off the shelves, since he considered it “of bad quality”. In 1986, PAULO COELHO did the pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostella, an experience later to be documented in his book The Pilgrimage.

In the following year, COELHO published The Alchemist. Slow initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, but it went on to become one of the best selling Brazilian books of all time.

Other titles include Brida (1990), The Valkyries (1992), By the river Piedra I sat Down and Wept (1994), the collection of his best columns published in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo entitle Maktub (1994), the compilation of texts Phrases (1995), The Fifth Mountain (1996), Manual of a Warrior of Light (1997), Veronika decides to die (1998), The Devil and Miss Prym (2000), the compilation of traditional tales in Stories for parents, children and grandchildren (2001), Eleven Minutes (2003), The Zahir (2005)

He also adapted The Gift (Henry Drummond) and Love letters of a prophet (Kalil Gibran).

To date, Coelho has sold a total of 100 million copies and, according to the magazine Publishing Trends; he was the most sold author in the world in 2003 with his book Eleven Minutes – even though at the time it hadn’t been released in the United States, Japan or 10 other countries!

Also according to Publishing Trends, The Alchemist was to be found in the 6th place of world sales in 2003. Eleven Minutes topped all lists in the world, except for England, where it was in second place. The Zahir, published in 2005, was in third place of bestsellers according to Publishing Trends, after Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.

The Alchemist was one of the most important literary phenomena of the 20th century. It reaches the first place in bestselling lists in 18 countries, and so far has sold 30 million copies.

The book has been praised by different personalities ranging from the Nobel Prize Kenzaburo Oe to the singer Madonna, who considers it one of her favourite books. It has equally inspired many projects – such as a musical in Japan, theatre plays in France, Belgium, USA, Turkey, Italy, Switzerland. It is also the theme of two symphonies (Italy and USA) and had its text illustrated by the famous French artist Moebius (author of the sceneries for he Fifth Element and Alien).

His work has been translated in 66 languages and edited in more than 150 countries.


* Messenger of Peace for the UN
* Member of the Board of the Shimon Peres Institute for Peace
* UNESCO special counsellor for “Intercultural Dialogues and Spiritual Convergences”
* Board Member of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship
* Member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters

Major prizes and decorations

* Distinction of Honour from the City of Odense (Hans Christian Andersen Award) (Denmark 2007)
* Las Pergolas Prize 2006 by the Association of Mexican Booksellers (ALMAC) (Mexico 2006)
* "I Premio Álava en el Corazón" (Spain 2006)
* "Cruz do Mérito do Empreendedor Juscelino Kubitschek" (Brazil 2006)
* “Wilbur Award”, presented by the Religion Communicators Council (USA 2006)
* Kiklop Literary Award for The Zahir in the category "Hit of the Year" (Croatia 2006)
* DirectGroup International Author Award (Germany 2005)
* "Goldene Feder Award" (Germany 2005)
* "The Budapest Prize" (Hungary 2005)
* "Order of Honour of Ukraine" (Ukraine 2004)
* "Order of St. Sophia" for contribution to revival of science and culture (Ukraine 2004)
* "Nielsen Gold Book Award" for The Alchemist (UK 2004)
* "Ex Libris Award" for Eleven Minutes (Serbia 2004)
* Golden Bestseller Prize from the largest circulation daily "Večernje Novosti" (Serbia 2004)
* "Best Fiction Corine International Award 2002" for The Alchemist (Germany 2002)
* "Club of Budapest Planetary Arts Award 2002" as a recognition of his literary work (Germany 2002)
* "Bambi 2001 Award" (Germany 2001)
* "XXIII Premio Internazionale Fregene" (Italy 2001)
* "Crystal Mirror Award" (Poland 2000)
* "Chevalier de l'Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur" (France 1999)
* "Crystal Award" World Economic Forum (1999)
* "Golden Medal of Galicia" (Spain 1999)
* Finalist for the "International IMPAC Literary Award" (Ireland 1997 and 2000)
* "Comendador de Ordem do Rio Branco" (Brazil 1998)
* "Golden Book" (Yugoslavia 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2004)
* "Super Grinzane Cavour Book Award" (Italy 1996)
* "Flaiano International Award" (Italy 1996)
* "Knight of Arts and Letters" (France 1996)
* "Grand Prix Litteraire Elle" (France 1995)


PAULO COELHO entered he Guinness Book of Records as the author that signed more books in different editions (October 9th 2003, at the Frankfurt Book Fair).

A Norwegian community, Arendal, gave copies of The Alchemist to all its civil servants, as a way of stimulating a new type of thought.

Many MBA courses, such as the one from The Graduate School of Business of the University of Chicago recommends the reading of The Alchemist to its students. This book has equally been adopted in schools in France, Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Taiwan, USA, Spain, etc.

The illustrated edition of The Alchemist, made by the artist Moebius, has already been released in many countries.

The book The Alchemist has been adopted in schools in more than 30 countries, offering special editions to students.

PAULO COELHO has managed to have three titles at the same time in bestselling lists in France, Brazil, Poland, Switzerland, Argentina, Greece, Croatia, and Russia.

The pope John Paulo II welcomed the author in the Vatican in 1998.

The World Economic Forum gave its most important prize to the author, the Crystal Award.

Coelho has a weekly column in the Brazilian newspaper O Globo and in several other newspapers around the globe. If you wish to make a free download of some of these columns, click here. If you wish to read these columns on line (Portuguese only), click here. If you wish to know in which countries these columns are published, click here.

In March 2000, the French government gave to the author its most prestigious title "Chevalier de L'Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur"

IN January 2001, Paulo Coelho became member of the board in the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. This foundation favours social projects.

The life of PAULO COELHO has already been the theme of documentaries for the Irish TV (Seven Days - a Journey with Paulo Coelho), Japanese (The road of Kumano in February, The Road of Santiago in September), People & Arts Channel ( Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist of Word), A&E Mundo, TV Prima, amongst others.

Paulo Coelho has now his own drink: chocolate chaud with orange. It is a special homage paid to him by the Hotel Le Bristol's bar in Paris, which is a setting for some of the passages of his most recent novel The Zahir.

During the months of March, April, May and June, Paulo Coelho travelled to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostella in 1986. He also held surprise book signings - announced one day in advance - in some cities along the way, to have a chance to meet his readers. In ninety days of pilgrimage the author travelled around the globe and took the famous Transiberrian train that took him to Vladivostok. During this experience Paulo Coelho launched his blog Walking the Path - The Pilgrimage in order to share with his readers his impressions.

In 2006, PAULO COELHO launched a compilation of tales, opinions and ideas called Be Like a Flowing River, based on his weekly columns. This book will be launched in most countries only in 2008, since his new book The Witch of Portobello, will have a worldwide release in 2007. []