Is it wrong to dislike Paulo Coehlo?

I just finished reading “11 minutes” prior to starting “The Kite Runner” and I have got to say, I tried people, I really did, I just don’t see what people see in Paulo.

It all started a couple of years ago, I got an e-mail from university announcing:

“Famous Brazilian author comes to Egypt”

Truth is I’d heard about Paulo Coehlo but had never read any of his books. My friends are really big fans so I thought I’d tag along. Faculty was crowded and the room was jam-packed. I had bought “The Alchemist” that morning yet hadn’t had a chance to look through it.

He walked in looking very “average”, our “revered” faculty Dean introduced him going on and on about what an amazing author he is. On a personal level, I have a 30 second attention span, I was long gone, I had with me the book I’d bought so I started reading. I have to admit the book isn’t bad, the language is very straightforward.

Finally they call on Coehlo to speak. He takes some questions, answers a few then is generous enough to hold a book-signing/picture-taking session.

I finished the book later that night.

I don’t usually like book endings. To my surprise I actually liked the ending of “The Alchemist“. The first book in a really long time that I genuinely believe has the perfect ending.

Having said that there are things I didn’t like about the book. Prior to my reading it a friend had described it as being a “naive” story. I couldn’t agree more. Its a smart yet simple idea which he attempted to make a big production of. I felt it was very poorly executed. Too much philosophy, reference to religion, self discovery mumbo-jumbo. I thought it was just The Alchemist, but 2 books later my views still stand. I don’t believe in such an overly optimistic, overly philosophical, psycho-analyzed, religiously in-tuned vision of the world. Life is a lot simpler and a lot more complicated.

Maybe its because it is translated.

Maybe its just me.

There are a couple of things he said that I do agree with him on:

“You should never meet your idols, idols are surreal, like Greek gods, to be admired yet never encountered in person”.

“You can’t plan writing a book, when the book is ready it will be written” 

“No matter where you start or where you end, its the journey and what you learn along the way that really matters”.


16 thoughts on “Is it wrong to dislike Paulo Coehlo?

  1. The thing about Coelho is not exactly his stories and plots as much as it is ‘some lines’ in every chapter that make you go…”HOW DID HE POSSIBLY THINK THAT WAY?!”. Things that make you feel, that he was once in your shoes, or knows what it feels like to be you, he does that by describing very common emotions as deeply as possible.
    And I quote from The Alchemist…
    “Well, it’s a long list. But the path was written in the omens, and
    there was no way I could go wrong,” … I actually believe that’s his story of “How I got so damn famous”
    I really like him for some emotions that get stirred up when I read some of his work, but I’m also pro disliking him! He’s a great writer, but he’s not worth the propaganda.

  2. Nerro: thanks, I’m loving it.

    Deee: Yeah, only even in those profound moments I tend to disagree with him. I don’t believe the universe conspires to help you realize your destiny khales!! Actually most of the time it conspires against you.

  3. I never read novels. And since I’ve never seen movies based on Coelho’s work then it is really hard for me to judge him. However I think he is like many other hypes such as Da Vinci Code, Men Are from Mars, Women are from Nowhere, etc. Everyone is supposed to read and like those books, just because other people do.

  4. Tab3an Nero totally loved the Kite Runner, she wrote about it in her blog and encouraged me to read it. It is nice. Enjoy the read.

    And Juka, I think it’s ok to dislike Coelho. I liked the Alchemist,,, Pilgrimage wasn’t bad but didn’t really leave something, and as for the Zahir I wasn’t able to even finish 5 chapters! It may sound weird, but this style of writing (self discovery, peace, harmony,,,, bla bla) reminds me of lounge music, it is peaceful with water falls sounds, sometimes it’s ok, but too much is a little bit irritating for me.

  5. what a coincidence to read ur post about coelho sam eday i also wrote about him,,but e7777em for a different reason: i just liked his writings 🙂
    it’s okay to disagree Juka, everyone has his taste. i like him for exact reason u dislike; his optimism, peace & self-discovery bla bla. may be i appreciate this now even more due to the life style we’re leading

    he’s a good writer, not to the level people put him at, which made youguys expecting wonders of him. try to think of him as just a writer, not as the best on vogue writer for the Egyptian dudes

  6. I personally think that Coelho is incredibly over-rated, if The Alchemist is anything to go by, which to be honest is the only Coelho-book I’ve read so far.

    For fairness’ sake, I probably might check out Veronika Decides To Die given that a couple of friends have recommended it more than once, but I’m not expecting to have my mind blown or my “life changed” either for that matter.

    The entire universe conspires to help you when you really want something? Please.. I don’t know, perhaps I’m too cynical for my own good, in any case the book was more groan-inducing than I would have liked it to be.

    I do have to admit though that it isn’t all bad. It’s just that one has to sift through some really naive bullcrap to get to the few pieces of advice worth paying attention to.

  7. Makes two of us, Juka. I don’t like the guy at all. His writing is OK, but overrated anyway.

    Oh and I hate Dan Brown, too. Sue me for that. The Da Vinci Code is a plagiarized piece of work (I read it before when it was called The Holy Blood and The Grail–too bad for him), he’s boring and VERY overrated. Read this if you want to know more:

    I don’t get why or how he’s a bestselling author. How come no one has accused him of stealing others’ words and works?

  8. Mo: I’m not sure about Veronica Decides to Die, 11 minutes was terrible, don’t think I can sit through another Paulo.

    Italiano: I don’t mind Dan, whether or not he stole it is another issue, it came down to the fact that I got through the whole thing without being bored which is more than I can say about Paulo.

  9. i don’t think it is wrong to dislike any author. i have only read the witch of portobello and the alchemist. and i think coehlo himself would agree with that opinion. the writing is simple and the ideas he presents are hardly “new” or “ground-breaking.” he is not a prophet or some literary genius, as some may view him.

    that being said, i have been inspired by his writing in ways that have changed my life. it was the simple non-oppressive way in which he presents his ideas that moved me. i felt a connection with his characters and it helped me understand my own mind. and from a literary perspective, i believe that be his greatest strength. for me, what defines a brilliant writer, is their ability to paint a picture of the human condition.

    however, my connection with his works came from my unique experiences in life. not surprisingly, someone with different experiences may not feel the same connection. although i am sure that at some point in every person’s life they read, see, or experience something that moves them. furthermore, i believe that any reaction, good or bad is what coehlo was seeking from his work.

    here we are, discussing his book, two people that have never met. this is a very simple and often overlooked fact. especially with technology today, it is easy to take exchanges like this for granted. and for myself, that is one of the most important ideas i have taken from his writing. that life is short and it is important to slow down and appreciate the little miracles in life.

    but like i said, that is what i took from him. and in any case, i am glad that we got to have this exchange (in agreement or not).

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