Q&A with Paulo Coelho discussion

The Alchemist

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message 1: by Kris (new)

Kris (krissy519) | 1 comments The Alchemist is the first Coelho book that I have read. I understand that it is folklore that emmulates other stories written over time, however, I found the writing style in this book to be very refreshing. Once started I couldn't put it down. I found it to be a very spiritual story and yet childlike at the same time. I guess simplistic is a better term. Simplistic and touching. It had adventure, romance, trials, and triumphs.
My one question for Mr. Coelho would be to explain the scene with the Alchemist and Santiago in the desert where Santiago finds himself talking to the wind and the sun. That part of the story seemed a little out of place with the rest of the story.

message 2: by Tiwik Dw (new)

Tiwik Dw | 1 comments Firstly, I hear The Alchemist when it was adapted to be radio's drama series. Amazing...Make me curious to found what's next episode. It rare happen to me, a radio's drama influence me to run looking for the book version and you know I found it sold out at bookstore :(, I live at small city even it's at big island but book's up date little left behind so I should waiting for few time to reach this book.
So, Mr. Coelho, I'm so curious to find out what's influence you to write this book that in my opinion it's different culture of you (is it true?)

message 3: by Paulo (new)

Paulo (paulocoelho) | 52 comments Mod
Dear Kris,

the moment that Santiago manages to talk to the sun and the wind is the moment where he learns to commune with the soul of the world.
He's finally able to read the book of life.


message 4: by Paulo (new)

Paulo (paulocoelho) | 52 comments Mod
Dear Tivik,

indeed this book is the fruit of a trip I made to Egypt and also of the many books I've read throughout my life.
Notably the works of Borges, Arabian Nights, Khalil Gibran and the teaching so f Rumi.
Arabian Culture is an endless treasure for me.


message 5: by Reny (new)

Reny (renny3108yahoocom) | 1 comments Hi Mr Coelho...it's just curious of mine..but are you learned Buddhism too? Because...many of your books sometimes describes of buddhism faith.


message 6: by Linda (new)

Linda Lavid (lindalavid) | 2 comments The Alchemist. Wonderful! Simple and elegant style. Timeless theme. I am very interested in writing a spiritual novel of inspiration and discovery, only with a woman protagonist in contemporary times. It seems, in literature, it's only male characters who search for the meaning of life. I will be reading more of your novels with a deconstructing eye. Thanks for being here! What a pleasure and an honor to thank you personally.

message 7: by Roniq (new)

Roniq Hi Paulo,
I have read several of your books( The Alchemist, The Zahir, Devil and Miss Prym, and The Pilgrimage)I hope to read all of them someday. You are a very gifted writer and these are the things I like about your books: A strong sense of Spirituality(life with purpose and meaning bigger than ourselves), Locations(they always take place somewhere exotic and exciting) and the Character Development. I often feel like the characters could be people I've met or have known in real life. I feel like I'm right there in the story with your characters, watching it unfold right before me. Your books have an energy and an excitement that is passionate and real. They have a sense of Familiarity. It's like they pull at your soul causing you to wake up and pay attention. I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite, although I have to say I had butterflies reading "The Zahir" through the entire book. It was so charged with emotion and a mysterious search for the truth of what we know or what we think we know about someone. I just loved it and couldn't put it down, I was genuinely sad when it was over. Maybe this is why I'm stalling on reading your other books, I want to savor them as something to discover, like looking for a treasure. The journey is the sweetest part. Thank you for bringing so much passion and discovery to the world.

Roniq Bartanen

message 8: by Paulo (new)

Paulo (paulocoelho) | 52 comments Mod
Dear Renny,

I've read quite a lot about Buddhism and actually one of the books that I'm re-reading right now is Siddharta by Herman Hesse.


message 9: by Paulo (new)

Paulo (paulocoelho) | 52 comments Mod
Dear Linda,

in my books I also have female characters in search of meaning.
It's actually the case of my recent book : The Witch of Portobello.


message 10: by Robert (new)

Robert (rgbatduke) Siddharta is one of my favorite books as well, easily my favorite by Hesse. Do you study e.g. Zen?

Also, how about John Barth?


message 11: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Mr. Coelho, I just wanted to tell you that I found your book, The Alchemist, to be life altering. I read it when my life was in great turmoil and it helped me find a peace that I was needing. I loved it so much I made my husband read it--and while English is his third language (he's Chinese), he found it to be inspirational as well. I recommend it to just about everyone I know!

I just wanted to say thank you for your words and wish you continued success.

I look forward to reading your other works.


message 12: by Paulo (new)

Paulo (paulocoelho) | 52 comments Mod
Dear Roniq,

thank you for your heart-felt message. it's always magical to see how my questioning resonate in readers' souls.


message 13: by Paulo (new)

Paulo (paulocoelho) | 52 comments Mod
Dear Robert,

I've read tales of the zen tradition but I can't say I've studied in depth this tradition.
Concerning Siddharta, recently I had to write the preface for this book and I recall the moment I first laid my hands on it : it was back in 1967 and I had been committed to an asylum by my parents.
This books saved my life.


message 14: by Paulo (new)

Paulo (paulocoelho) | 52 comments Mod
Dear Meghan,

thank you for your kind word and support.
Don't forget though that you're the only one responsible for getting out of the turmoil - the book was simply an instrument.
You're the true warrior of light


message 15: by Sera (new)

Sera Mr. Coehlo, I enjoyed your book The Alchemist very much and put it in my top 5 favorite books of all time. It inspired me to continue to unravel my Personal Legend. My favorite part was were it stated that just before one reaches her goal that that is where the journey becomes the most difficult. I keep this premise in mind as I face obstacles that attempt to impede me from reaching my objectives. It's a very useful tool that helps me from becoming negative toward what I am trying to do.

I also have a few questions for you.

First, you describe how everything is connected, and you emphasize this in the book through man's relationship with nature. Is God a part of nature, or is He another part of the equation?

Second, you talk about beginner's luck, and I am curious as to whether it is really luck, or just a way in which that we are first shown which path to take, or that the path that we have chosen is the right one? The first job that I ever had set me on the career that I have now, which is quite incredible, but I often wonder whether it was beginner's luck or just the Soul of the World leading me to my personal destiny. Thus, my question is, is beginner's luck tied to personal destiny?

Lastly, is one's Personal Legend always tied to one's trade? Or, can one have a Personal Legend that is not economic-based?

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

message 16: by Ginger (new)

Ginger | 3 comments It sounds like you've read many religious books. Have you read The Book of Mormon? If so, did you take anything from it into this book?

message 17: by Mike (new)

Mike Coyle | 3 comments Dear Paulo
Of all the books you have written, which gave you the most personal satisfaction, and why?
Thanking you in advance.

message 18: by Paulo (new)

Paulo (paulocoelho) | 52 comments Mod
Dear Sera,

thank you for your excellent questions.
Here are my answers:
1. To quote William Blake - God is in everything down to a simple grain of sand.
2. I do believe beginner's luck is a manifestation of the soul of the world.
3. A personal legend can go beyond the economic realm. I've known women for instance for who motherhood was their personal legend in this earth.

message 19: by Paulo (new)

Paulo (paulocoelho) | 52 comments Mod
Dear Ginger,

no I enver read the Book of Mormon.
Can you tell me more about it?


message 20: by Paulo (new)

Paulo (paulocoelho) | 52 comments Mod
Dear Mike,

I can't choose this - it's like asking a father to choose his most beloved son.
All my books reflect who I am, they are mirrors of my soul.

message 21: by Ninda (new)

Ninda (ndaaa) | 1 comments Dear Mr.Coelho,
The Alchemist is also the first Coelho book that I read.I read the translation version..
I really love the quote about how the world conspires in helping us to achieve our goal.
I'm just wondering,can I expect the universe conspires in helping me in a thing called love?
Your books are really touching..thank you..

-Ninda, Indonesia-

message 22: by Elaine (new)

Elaine | 1 comments Dear Paulo,
Thank you for inspiring us to reflect upon our lives as we read your books. Each year, as my high school English sophomores read, discuss, and reflect upon The Alchemist, their questions and insights are thoroughly enjoyable. I tell them they are my warriors of light. Their comments and written thoughts shed wisdom in our quest. If you could recommend another of your works that would be suitable for high school thinkers, please let me know. I also enjoyed The Devil and Miss Prym. Do you have an idea for a second read?

I thought you might be interested to know that as we read, each student reaches into a fabric pouch to select a serenity rune stone (God, serenity, acceptance, courage, or wisdom) that, in that moment, communicates support through their day. I obtained this idea from Ralph Blum's "the Serenity Runes: Five Keys to the Serenity Prayer." The exercise goes well with Santiago's curiosity of his stones.

I would love to post a quote from you to motivate my writers to delve into their lifejourneys. Would you mind offering a line of advice?

I also find your present project quite interesting. Have you ever thought of extending your Warrior of Light idea to high school or college students in some form?

Best wishes for your continued success. Your passion and keen insight kindle a united flame as we understand unity depite diversity.


message 23: by Catz (new)

Catz Hello Paulo,

What is the best book you've read that you recommend we read? Of course it doesn't have to be one of yours...

message 24: by Courtney (new)

Courtney McPhie | 1 comments I was delighted to find this discussion as I chose The Alchemist for my book club this month, and we are meeting tonight! I appreciate all your comments giving further insight into this book and into your life as an artist.

I first read the Alchemist when I was 17, and it meant so much to me. I just re-read it and found such new and wonderful things as I am in such a different time of life (graduated from college, married, and pregnant with my first child). It is so fun to re-discover an old favorite book and have it bring so many new insights and thoughts to my current life situation.

Thank you, Paulo, for contributing so positively to the literary world!

message 25: by Shelley (new)

Shelley | 1 comments Dear Paulo,

It is an honor to talk to you. Thank you.

You seem to have very strong spiritual beliefs. Sometimes those connections are all that pull us through. Are you willing to share with us the story of your time in the asylum? I imagine that pulling through that experience has made you feel so strong (in retrospect, anyway). My time in an institution was the scariest time of my life.

While Siddharta was the book that saved your life, The Alchemist is the one that got me through many tough times.

Thank you,

message 26: by Forest (new)

Forest | 1 comments This was the first Paulo Coelho book I read (not counting Undici Minuti I attempted in Italian). I had the special edition and glad I did. The questions really helped me understand more of the underlying concepts of the book. I am going to look for other Coelho books with the questions.
The book reminded me of Siddhartha (Hesse), and as a wanderer, there was a lot that paralleled my own life. While in Portugal, and Morocco. Every shepherd I saw reminded me of the Alchemist. What are my Pyramids?

message 27: by Kymberli (new)

Kymberli Tucker | 1 comments Mr. coelho,

The Alchemist is the only book I've read of yours but, it is very inspiring as many have already stated. Thanks for bringing a world that I've never visited to me and helping continue my journey through life. Kudos!!!

message 28: by Juan (new)

Juan | 1 comments Dear Paulo:
Thank you for being a guide. The Alchemist was a book that helped me look for signs. Now, I too am writing a book on my walk to Santiago..one I did in the company of some Brazilians (yo soy mexicano)in 2006. It was life-changing. Anyhow, how do you confront writing challenges?

Your reader and fellow writer,

Juan Carlos

message 29: by Ian (new)

Ian Galloway (madb22) | 1 comments Dear Paulo,

Thank you, Like so many others on this discussion thread The Alchemist found me just when I needed it.
It seems if you are looking for signs, even if you don't know it, what you need will find you.
Thankfully this time I recognised the signs and the message I took from the story helped me realise there was a voice missing and have begun the journey to learn to listen again.
Again - thank you

message 30: by Syroezhka (new)

Syroezhka Dear Paolo:

This is more of a comment rather a question. I am Russian who lives abroad. I remember coming for a visit at the end of the '90s when your book was translated into Russian. It completely took hold of the Russian society. Russians in general are very well read. If you ever ride a subway in, say, Moscow, you can see that almost everyone reads a book. Anyway, this time the book (your book) took hold of the Russian congress (Duma). It became an instant hit, you spoke of something very dear to the heart of an elected politician. Members of Duma carried your book in their briefcases and exchanged their transcendental thoughts about it during their meetings. I thought it was fascinating and had to read it myself to find the kernel of attraction. My guess is that they all were enchanted by its simple surface of a journey through life and complicated philosophical content. Thank you!

message 31: by Billione (new)

Billione | 1 comments Hello,
I read The Alchemist and finished it on the first day of summer 2007. I found it interesting that a book I never heard of came in and changes my perspective. In the book, someone tells the protagonist that if something happens once it will never happen again, but if it happens a second time, it will certainly happen again. (I hope I got the idea of it correct.) I understand what it means, but when I mention that phrase to friends, I have trouble getting them to see what I see, because they haven't read the book. In my life, I use that phrase to remind myself that nothing is by chance and to be aware of the significance of everything that happens in it. Where did that phrase/idea originate, or is it something that you thought of for the book? This book and several others including Daniel Quinn's Ishmael really helped shape my life. Thank you for writting it.

message 32: by Chris (new)

Chris | 1 comments Paulo:

I thoroughly enjoy The Alchemist every time I read it. It is an amazing, inspiring book. Thank you so much for writing it.

Another book that has blessed my life tremendously that I recommend to you is the Book of Mormon. Like The Alchemist, the Book of Mormon is inspirational and contains characters whose lives project truth and meaning into our own. For example, Nephi in the Book of Mormon encounters great difficulty as he is told by God to build a boat to sail his family to the promised land. This is a great challenge for Nephi, as you can imagine, but he completes it, and sails his family to the promised land of the American continent. There is so much more in that great book. If you don't have a Book of Mormon already, I recommend you get a free copy by going to this link:

Best Wishes with your next projects as you continue to inspire people like me and my friends who I tell about The Alchemist.

God bless you,


message 33: by Brian (new)

Brian | 1 comments السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
Paulo, I am Constantly impressed with the depth of your knowledge regarding Arabic and Islamic thought and tradition, even including lesser known Sufi thought such as the Batan and and the Zahir. I am not a Muslim myself, but I too have found great value in their culture.
How did you come to delve so deeply into their thoughts and traditions?

message 34: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (beccalou) I too have been inspired by this book, and have considered the same question Ginger posed.

The Book of Mormon contains record of Christ's visit to the American continent following his resurrection in Jerusalem.
It tells the history of a people who fled Jerusalem before it's destruction in the days of King Zedakiah.-- long before Christ's birth. It details the tragic split of a family, one branch seeking goodness, and the other seeking the things of the world. As the two branches of the family begin to fill the American Continent, it describes the heartache of seeking worldly, fleeting happiness, and the joy of finding true peace and happiness through the redemption offered to us as a result of the Atonement of Christ.
It is a wonderful book telling the story of a people seeking a land of promise and peace.

You can find it electronically here:


or you can learn more about the LDS Church here:



message 35: by Heather (new)

Heather (hedrgoblin) | 1 comments Hi Mr. Coelho,
Like so many people that have read your books, Reading The Alchemist made many things go “click” for me. The book showed me a way to explain so many ways of thinking about different kinds of energy and… life joy (for lack of a better word although I’m sure there is one).

What was it like for you to write it? Was the path of Santiago one that you explored within the confines of the book and his world as it related to the character, or was the character a metaphor for something that you felt personally? Was the journey a path for the book, or was the book a metaphor for your own personal journey (maybe that is a better way to ask the question).

And, although I am sure that many people say this to you, thank you for writing. Your books bring a lot of radiant thinking into my life.

message 36: by Messiah (new)

Messiah  (mpy1383) | 1 comments Gita is one of my favorite books during my study on cultural survey. what's your opinion about it as a great eastern works?

message 37: by Hamish (new)

Hamish Macpherson (hamstu) | 1 comments Hello Paulo,

I remember when I first bought The Alchemist. It was a few months ago. I was in a book store, not far from the train station which takes me home from work every night.

I had already chosen a book to buy, and I had only a few more minutes to catch my train home; but I had this feeling that I needed something more. Now usually I would just put the feeling off and go on my way, but this time I thought "Hmm, why not?", so I went back towards the adult fiction section, and there I saw "The Alchemist." -- it somehow stood out.

Needless to say, it was well worth the purchase, and I'm grateful for the tiny impression that I had to buy it. And I want to thank you so much for writing it.

Some others have mentioned The Book of Mormon. This is also a book very close to my heart. It's already been well described, but I hope that you take the chance to read it, and let me know what you think!

Thanks again.

Hamish Macpherson

message 38: by Samuel (new)

Samuel Barlow (sammy) | 1 comments Dear Mr. Paulo,
My uncle Drew recommended this book to me last semester. On the plane ride home, I read this book in a couple of hours.

I really enjoyed it and it really opened my eyes. Many people forget that they can live their dreams if they will just dedicate themselves to it.

I just want to thank you for writing such an amazing book. It almost reminds me of The Little Prince in its simplicity but truth. I love reading because sometimes we get sucked into convention and we need to realize that we have a choice to be something and make something of our lives.

Samuel Barlow

message 39: by Cin (new)

Cin Hola Paulo,

I would like to give you thanks for writing this book. It came to me when I needed it most. I can't imagine where I'd be or what I'd be doing if I hadn't stopped, sat down, taken a breath, and read it.


message 40: by Gervaze (last edited Feb 27, 2008 04:59PM) (new)

Gervaze Several years ago, I beheld this book, which reading left an indelible impression. I reflected that, 'Well, here's writer, a man, who sees and feels into the other side. I have not since read the other works but do look forward and around that The Alchemist might be put to film, and I should only hope that there dreams and toils out here somewhere filmmakers, producers, and directors who can import that equal to film audiences, who leave them with these same feelings, images, and impressions as were shared with me.

Big Sun Light,

message 41: by Lexana (new)

Lexana Angel | 1 comments Dear Mr.Coelho,

I've read your Alchemist and i thought it is a beautiful novel.I love the way you express the character of the shepherd boy.And in my point of view there are a lot of religious lessons in it.My question, is your writing style,especially in The Alchemist really inspired by what your believe in/your perspective of God and religion?Or it's just one of your random inspiration through the other books that you have read?Thank you for the answer before....and maybe one in a time you would love to visit your readers in Jakarta,Indonesia?It would be an honour to have your autograph on My "The Alchemist" cover book.Stay blessed.Christin

message 42: by Suzanne (last edited Feb 27, 2008 08:54PM) (new)

Suzanne | 1 comments Interestingly enough, I had planned to also ask if you had ever read The Book of Mormon. The reason being your reference to a Urim and Thummmim which is used in the Book of Mormon by some people being led out of Jerusalem prior to it's destruction around 600 B.C. You can easily obtain a free copy in any language if you go to www.lds.org. The book starts off following this particular group of people as they travel to the Americas over sea, but also discusses their descendants and Christ's visit to the Americas after his death. I think you will find it very interesting and inspiring.

message 43: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisa_diane) Dear Mr. Coelho,

I read your book The Alchemist, and I really enjoyed it. It was inspiring and beautiful, and it helped me to realize my personal legend. There was one element of the book that I wondered about, though: do any of the women in the book have personal legends? Does Fatima have a personal legend, and if so, why wasn't it important for her to pursue it?



message 44: by Shelby (new)

Shelby (shelbywoolf) | 1 comments Dear Paulo. I absolutly loved the Alchemist. It was truly inspiring. It was a wonderful story of how the Boy, Santiago endures his journey of his wish and dream, and finds a woman to love at the same time as finding this glorious treasure. My favorite part was when he became the wind. It was such a challenge for him, because the Alchemist would not tell him how, but he did it anyway.
Thank you for writing such inspiring, and wonderful books. The Alchemist truly helped me learn to go fulfill your dreams.

message 45: by Paulo (new)

Paulo (paulocoelho) | 52 comments Mod
Dear Ninda,

love is the very reason we are here. We haven't any power over it, it's the opposite really : we are merely its instruments on earth.


message 46: by Paulo (new)

Paulo (paulocoelho) | 52 comments Mod
Dear Elaine,

thank you for your kind message.
Concerning a second read - I rather like to let my book reach the shores of reader's souls.
If you want quotes from my work - you can always consult my blog:
There are e-cards, and daily quotes that are posted. Please fell free to use them as you wish.
Thank you for your helpful suggestions.

message 47: by Paulo (new)

Paulo (paulocoelho) | 52 comments Mod
Dear Cats,

there are many books that have inspired me throughout the years:
- Siddharta by Herman Hesse
- Aleph by Jorge Luis Borges
- The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
- Sexus by Henry Miller
just to name a few

message 48: by Paulo (new)

Paulo (paulocoelho) | 52 comments Mod
Dear Courtney,

thank you for your kind message.
Congrats on the little one to come


message 49: by Paulo (new)

Paulo (paulocoelho) | 52 comments Mod
Dear Shelley,

you are totally right: the time in the asylum made me stronger. The scariest moment in my life was when I was tortured by the paramiliataries during the dictatorship years in brazil (late 60's and 70's).
This traumatic experience didn't bring me nothing - because it was only about fear and hate.


message 50: by Paulo (new)

Paulo (paulocoelho) | 52 comments Mod
Dear Forest,

you're the only one that can answer this question.


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