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The Zahir: A Novel of Obsessionby Paulo Coelho
Synopses & Reviews
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.
The narrator of The Zahir is a bestselling novelist who lives in Paris and enjoys all the privileges that money and celebrity bring. His wife of ten years, Esther, is a war correspondent who, despite her professional success and freedom from the conventional constraints of marriage, is facing an existential crisis. When she disappears along with a friend, Mikhail, who may or may not be her lover, the authorities question the narrator. Was Esther kidnapped, killed, or did she simply abandon a marriage that left her unfulfilled? The narrator doesn't have any answers but he has plenty of questions of his own.
Then one day Mikhail, the man with whom Esther was last seen, finds the narrator and promises to take him to his wife. In his attempt to recapture a love lost, the narrator discovers something unexpected about himself.
A haunting and redemptive story about the dark side of obsession, The Zahir explores its potential to both fulfill our dreams and to destroy them. It is also a thoughtful meditation on faith, celebrity, marriage — and their relationships to freedom and creativity.
"The press chat cites 65 million copies of Coelho's eight previous novels in print, making the Brazilian author one of the world's bestselling novelists (150 countries and 56 languages). This book, whose title means 'the present' or 'unable to go unnoticed' in Arabic, has an initial staggered laydown of eight million copies in 83 countries and 42 languages. It centers on the narrator's search for his missing wife, Esther, a journalist who fled Iraq in the runup to the present war, only to disappear from Paris; the narrator, a writer, is freed from suspicion when his lover, Marie, comes forward with a (true) alibi. He seeks out Mikhail, the man who may be Esther's most recent lover and with whom she was last seen, who has abandoned his native Kazakhstan for a kind of speaking tour on love. Mikhail introduces the narrator to a global underground 'tribe' of spiritual seekers who resist, somewhat vaguely, conventional ways of living. Through the narrator's journey from Paris to Kazakhstan, 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; the spare, propulsive style that drove The Alchemist, Eleven Minutes and Coelho's other books will easily carry fans through myriad iterations of the ways and means of amor." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Coelho continues to prove himself a contemporary fabulist, spinning irresistible stories while seeking enlightenment at the same time....[T]he mesmerizing narrative offers a highly personal meditation on the meaning and the power of love." Booklist
"Coelho...has written an enlightening story of faith and the reclamation of pure love." Library Journal
"Abstractions, bromides and over-simplifications abound....Coelho's plain prose does go down easily, and is no more a challenge to the intellect than Jell-o is to the esophagus." Kirkus Reviews
"As a novel, The Zahir fails to have even the most slender story to tell, although it does contain some hard-hitting egotism, perfectly imbued with arrogance masquerading as spiritual enlightenment..." Baltimore Sun
"The characters — self-obsessed, whiney, tiresome — fail to redeem the work. As they struggle to find meaning in their lives, readers will be struggling to see this story through to its ungratifying end." Seattle Times
The author of the international bestsellers The Alchemist and Eleven Minutes offers a new tale about one man's journey to capture a lost love, making surprising discoveries about his marriage and himself along the way.
Set in Paris and in the enchanting landscapes 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.
The narrator of The Zahir is a bestselling novelist who lives in Paris and enjoys all the privileges that money and celebrity bring. His wife of ten years, Esther, is facing an existential crisis. When she disappears along with a friend, Mikhail, who may or may not be her lover, the authorities question the narrator. Was Esther kidnapped, killed, or did she simply abandon a marriage that left her unfulfilled? The narrator doesn't have any answers but he has plenty of questions of his own.
Then, one day, Mikhail finds the narrator and promises to take him to his wife. In his attempt to recapture a love lost, the narrator discovers something unexpected about himself.
About the Author
Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the city where he now lives. His own life has in many ways been as varied and unusual as the protagonists of his internationally acclaimed novels. Like them, Paulo Coelho has followed a dream in a quest for fulfillment. His own dream, to be a writer, met with frustration throughout much of his early adult life, a time in which he worked at various professions, some of them materially rewarding but spiritually unfulfilling. "I always knew," he says, "that my Personal Legend, to use a term from alchemy, was to write." He was 38 when he published his first book.
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 popular songwriter. In 1974, he was imprisoned for a short time by the military dictatorship then ruling in Brazil. In 1980, he experienced one of the defining moments of his life: he walked the 500-plus mile Road of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. On this ancient highway, used for centuries by pilgrims from France to get to the cathedral said to house the remains of St. James, he achieved a self-awareness and a spiritual awakening that he later described in The Pilgrimage.
Paulo Coelho once said that following your dream is like learning a foreign language; you will make mistakes but you will get there in the end. In 1988, he published The Alchemist, a novel that explores this theme, and it launched him as an international bestselling author. Specifically, Paulo Coelho is recognized for his powerful storytelling technique and the profound spiritual insights he blends seamlessly into his parables. Since then, The Alchemist has sold more than 11 million copies worldwide and has been translated into some 41 languages. In addition to The Pilgrimage and The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho has written luminous novels about the different streams of our lives, including By The River Piedra I Sat Down & Wept, The Valkyries, The Fifth Mountain, and Veronika Decides to Die. A winner of numerous literary prizes, Paulo Coelho is also a prominent speaker for humanitarian causes. In 1999, he received a Crystal Award for Artistic Achievement at the Davos Economic Forum Conference.
Paulo Coelho nació en Brasil y es uno de los autores más leídos internacionalmente. El Alquimista, su libro más famoso, ha vendido mas de 35 millones de copias en todo el mundo y ha sido traducido a cincuenta y cuatro idiomas. Ha recibido destacados premios y menciones internacionales como el Planetary Arts Award, el Crystal Award concedido por el foro Económico Mundial y la prestigiosa distinción Chevalier de l'Ordre de la Legión d'Honneur del gobierno francés. Coelho escribe una columna semanal sindicada en el mundo entero. Actualmente, vive en Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.
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