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Understanding Coelho’s Appeal

I’m one of the many who does not, but millions do, and the Times decided to find out why up to 100 million copies worldwide had been sold around the world. So how does Paulo Coelho do it? The short answer, discovers Penny Wark, is that he writes simple tales in simple language about the quest for spiritual fulfillment, about personal development. But there are many books on this subject, and few can match his ability to engage with so many people in so many corners of the world.

Though it’s just as clear from the piece that despite Wark’s search, she’s not getting it either – reading several novels and not finding the so-called solution that millions of others seem to have found, and the language gap between her English and Coelho’s more broken version. But she does find out what the author searches for now: “Well, I don’t need to write if I care only about money – I could have stopped with THE ALCHEMIST. But I am searching always for expressing myself, and that means anxiety. That means pain. That means sleepless nights, but above all that means joy.” And a whole lot of other dramatic platitudes, too…

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