Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian, international bestselling author. He has carved a niche for himself in the drama and romance genre. The author created the Guinness world record 2009, for the most translated book by any living author. His books are widely loved, and a huge population views him as a Guru.
Paulo Coelho de Souza is a well-known, immensely quotable, Brazilian lyricist and novelist. Born on Sunday, 24 August 1947 (age 74 years; as of 2021) in Rio de Janeiro. He grew up in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended a Jesuit school.
Before being the international bestseller he worked as an actor, director, lyricist, and composer as well. Often his work is criticized for not meeting the requirements for good literature, but that doesn’t seem to affect his fame, he has already carved out a niche for himself with worldly loved works like The Alchemist, Eleven Minutes, The Zahir.
Height (approx.): in centimetres – 173 cm in meters
Hair Colour: White
Paulo Coelho belongs to a staunch catholic family.
Parents & Sibling
His father, Pedro Queima de Coelho de Souza and his mother, Lygia Coelho, both were conventional Catholics. His father was an engineer and his mother was a homemaker. He has a sister named Sonia Coelho, who is a writer as well.
Wife & Children
Paulo Coelho is currently married to the Brazilian artist, Christina Oiticica: The Brazillian artist is best known for her exotic neoconcretist technique that allows elements of nature to act upon her work. Paulo Coelho has previously been married thrice. The couple is childless, though, the former has a niece who works as their assistant.
Though he was opposed to Catholicism in the initial years of his life later he returned to the same after being an atheist.
Paulo Coelho is rather superstitious, it is believed that he doesn’t start a book until he finds a white plume feather. After he prints out the very first draft, he touches the plume to every page. He believes in omens and also has a strong belief in the power of the universe and destiny.
The author had a rather eventful, early life. He had his parents concerned when he expressed his wish to be a writer. His father couldn’t understand his willingness to be a writer. He was born to devout Catholic parents, and his constant opposition to the religious path also made his parents worry, hence his father had admitted him to a mental asylum at the age of 17, he managed to escape thrice until he was finally released at the age of 20. Adhering to his parents’ wish, he pursued Law, but later he dropped out and travelled like a hippie. While leading a nomadic life, he started taking drugs in 1960. Before he became the famous writer we know of today, he had been an actor, journalist, theatre director and lyricist. Whilst working with Raul Seixas he was associated with cultism due to the lyrics of certain songs. Some of his songs were considered left-wing and dangerous by the military administration at that time. His first book Pilgrimage wasn’t a success, but it was his second book, The Alchemist, that brought him fame, selling about a million copies. Although the book had sold only 900 copies when first published and its publisher decided not to reprint it. It was only through the author’s unflinching faith in his novel that about two years later he found another publisher to publish and it became a bestseller. He married the artist Christina Oiticica. This is Coelho’s fourth marriage. The couple had previously lived in Rio de Janeiro and then in a country house in the Pyrenees Mountains of France, they now live in Switzerland. He has founded The Paulo Coelho foundation to support children.
The author has written about a minimum of 19 books so far. He writes a book almost every two years. He considers his work a hybrid of Carlos Castaneda and Khalil Gibran. Maestri, a history professor, at the University of Passo Fundo calls Paulo’s work Yuppie esoteric Narrative. He is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters. Mostly his books evoke a belief in destiny, varied themes of love and origins of faith. Coelho is seen as a spiritual writer who employs rich symbolism in his novels mostly guided around spiritual journeys taken by his characters. Some books are believed to be a journey of his own life and often seen as the reflection of the same. He wrote his first book Pilgrimage after completing his pilgrimage from France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The author’s second book was a breakthrough in his writing career. As he feels this book was destined to be written by him. The book ignites the idea of spending one’s life in pursuit of individuals’ dreams. The book is widely applauded for its life-guiding spirit. As per a survey held in 2016 by a UK based company named Richtopia, Paulo Coelho has been named as the second most influential person. His work has been published in more than 170 countries and translated into eighty-one languages.
Paulo Coelho’s books reaffirm faith in the presence of one supreme power above all. Another feature of Coelho’s writing is magic realism: A genre, in which realistic narrative and naturalistic technique are combined with surreal elements of dream or fantasy. His writings mostly have one common theme of Love, the essential victory of good over bad, foreshadowing ie. development of characters’ journey to help themselves often to discover and rediscover themselves.
The Alchemist: Paulo Coelho’s Breakthrough Book
“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”
― Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist happens to be a life-changing narrative as people famously call it. People from pop stars; Madonna to actors like Will Smith to the famous talk show host Oprah Winfrey, claim The Alchemist has changed their lives. In an interview with Oprah, Paulo talked about his writing philosophies and said that one can learn things only after committing mistakes and paying attention.
The book is a milestone in the writing career of Coelho. The basic theme of this breakthrough novel is that each person has a personal legend or a personal fate, it’s for them to follow or to not follow it. The book is now being made into a feature film by Hollywood actor and producer Laurence Fishburne. The book has won the author many awards like Nielsen Gold Bestseller Award – UK France’s Grand Prix Litteraire Elle in 1995, and Germany’s 2002 Corine International Award for fiction.
He was accused of cultism due to the lyrics of certain songs he wrote for Raul Seixas. It’s believed that songs composed by Paulo Coelho along with Raul had lyrics that were suggestive of cultism.
Paulo Coelho was also accused of ripping lyrics of songs that weren’t popular in Brazil.
Imprisoned and Tortured.
He was also imprisoned for some alleged subversive activity against the Brazilian government in 1974 The military government viewed his songs as left-wing. He was released and immediately kidnapped by paramilitaries, who accused him of being a guerrilla fighter. They held him for a week, according to Coelho, they tortured him by applying shocks to his genitals.
Controversial Admission to ABL
The Brazilian Academy of Letters (ABL) was suspected to have admitted Coelho in 2002 considering he was childless and after his death, a good enough part of his wealth would be left to the institution. The author has been transparent, rather open towards any speculation regarding his admission to the institution.
Not giving due credit
The author’s biography raised many eyebrows when it was revealed that the author’s second book, Practical Manual of Vampirism, was written by his old friend and collaborator, identified as Toninho Buda, whom the former never gave due credit for the work which was originally published in 1985. Later Coelho pulled the book away from shelves stating it was of poor quality. The author was also accused of stealing a quote, Laura Byrne a jeweller claims to have written and shared the quote on social media in January 2014. It was posted in September 2014, by the author, removing her tag, TM. She called him out for blocking opportunities for her and her jewellery brand.
Awards, Honors, Achievements
- Paulo Coelho happens to be the first-ever recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Award 2010.
- He is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.
- He won the Kiklop Literary Award Hit of the Year, Croatia, 2006 for his book The ZAHIR.
- The Ex Libris Award, Serbia, 2004 was given to him for his book The Eleven minutes.
- Corine International Award for Best Fiction, Germany, 2002, was awarded for the book The Alchemist.
- He was awarded the World Economic Forum Crystal Award, in 1999.
- He’s a special counsellor for Intercultural Dialogues and Spiritual Convergences UNESCO.
- He was an ambassador of the European Union for Intercultural Dialogue, 2008.
- He’s also working with the forums that work actively for peace in Iran and Iraq.
- Revolutionary: Che Guevara
- Ideology: Marxism
- Philosopher: Friedrich Engels
- Paulo Coelho loves India and it reflects in his works. He’s an admirer of Rabindranath Tagore, and he has quoted the late literary genius in his book The Hippie. Paulo quoted a verse from Gitanjali in his book and said,
Poetry is another way of seeing the world. These days people don’t pay enough attention to poetry. By quoting Tagore at the beginning of the book, I wanted to bring back attention to his work.”
- Paulo Coelho is often seen admiring Bollywood films and Bollywood actors.
A star joins other stars in the sky. Thank you for everything, Irrfan Khan
“Death is as sure for that which is born, as birth is for that which is dead. Therefore grieve not for what is inevitable.”
― Bhagavad Gita pic.twitter.com/WKaOlgf4bi
— Paulo Coelho (@paulocoelho) April 30, 2020
- Paulo Coelho often calls himself a magician jokingly and also claims to belong to an old tradition; RAM, references of which he has made in his novel Pilgrimage. He had shared in an interview that he had learnt many RAM exercises from a guide named Petrus.
- Paulo was to write a book with the late legendary Kobe Bryant. Following the player’s death, Paulo deleted the draft for that book.
- It was announced that he had signed for TV shows that were based on characters from his books The Devil And Miss Prym, The Witch of Portobello and Brida.
- A suite at the Hotel Ambasciatori in Rome is named after the author, and a hot chocolate drink at Le Bristol hotel in Paris is also named after him as a mark of respect. It is pronounced Co-el-you.
- The Alchemist is by far the only book to be translated into the most number of languages written by any author in 1 sitting.
- The author lives a simple life, contrary to the popular belief, of him living in a castle surrounded by bodyguards.
- The author believes that word of mouth is the Holy grail for writers, for their books’ promotion.
- The author believes that jealousy kills marriage and that the openness in his marriage saved it.