Recently, in an attempt to explore different genres and writing styles, I picked up The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Initially written in Portuguese, this book is now sold worldwide in 70 different languages.
This international bestseller is about a boy named Santiago – an Andalusian shepherd, a nomad who left his town and his family to see the world. One evening, while he was resting in an abandoned church with his flock, Santiago had the same dream again – a child guiding him towards the Egyptian Pyramids. With the help of a Gypsy fortune teller, he decodes this dream; she tells her that if he goes to Egypt, he’ll discover the “Treasure,” which will make him rich. Intrigued by the interpretation, Santiago embarks on a journey. On his voyage to the distant land, the boy meets many characters – an old king named Melchizedek, a Crystal Merchant, the Englishman, an Arabian girl named Fatima, a wise Alchemist. All these people, at some point, will play an important role in his journey. The question is: Will they help the boy to choose the right direction? Will Santiago make it to the pyramids? If he does, will he find the treasure there?"Every search begins with beginner's luck. And every search ends with the victor's being severely tested." Do you agree?
“The Alchemist” is Paulo Coelho’s extremely well-known work of literature, mainly due to his skill of mixing fantasy fiction with metaphors and thereby creating an enchanting allegorical novel. Every chapter is a lesson to be learned.
After reading “The Alchemist” you’ll either set on a journey to find or follow your “personal legend” or will never be able to wrap your head around the apparent hype that has been created. I personally am leaning towards the latter side because, unlike others, to me, this book is not “life-changing” inspiring enough. My experience with this book was very different. Whilst I really enjoyed the storytelling and his style of writing – mixing prose with metaphor and making it look so effortless, I am not sure if I “liked liked” the book in its entirety. There are two reasons for this: first, I feel that the book was slightly gender-biased and secondly, this philosophical novel is too mainstream for me. Over and above that, I think I went in with a lot of expectations due to how well known this book is and needless to say, I was disappointed. It was curiosity, to know how Santiago’s journey unfolds, which helped me to finish this novel. A short read like this one usually takes me about 5 to 7 hours to finish (with breaks), however, I took weeks to finish this one. That may be because “self-help” is not a genre I enjoy, and I think the best lessons are learned through fiction.
In conclusion, I cannot decide if I dislike this book, but I know that I don’t like it and won’t be picking something similar anytime soon! So, if you are somebody who finds philosophical or motivational novels alluring, then this is something you should pick up and read. Others, if you plan to skip this one, it’s okay! There’s not much you are missing out on.