I just finished “The Alchemist” by this same author literally about two months ago and his writing was so good that I had to go and read some more. With that said, today I’m going to be reviewing “Manuscript Found In Accra” which is the second book that I have read from Mr. Coelho.
The structure of the novel was different from most I have read in that its chapters are formatted as answers to questions that are posed to the main narrator of the book, known as “The Copt”. The backstory to the book is that what you are reading is the manuscript that the citizens of Accra compiled in the hours before they were overrun by their enemies who are waiting outside of Accra’s city gates for nightfall to attack. The citizens have little means of defending themselves from the inevitable, and so at the advice of the mysterious and wise figure of the city, “The Copt”, the citizens gather together to record not the last hours of their beloved city and the battle to come that will erase it all, but what history will truly wish to know about their civilization — their daily lives. And thus, one by one, the citizens offer the Copt their questions that he answers with the beauty and significance of answers that will never be given again and yet will eternally hold true.
The chapter that was most poignant to me was when “a man who always woke up early to take his flocks to the pastures around the city said: ‘You have studied in order to be able to speak these beautiful words, but we have to work to support our families.'” to which the Copt’s response is the articulation of an instinctive truth within me that has been skillfully put to language in Coelho’s book. Much of Coelho’s writing is like that: the transcription of a soul’s truths. It transcends all cultural, generational, religious, racial characteristics and speaks directly to the source that springs from everyone one of us. It is deeply personal, yet impersonal because it is my source, but it is also in all of you.
Although this is only my second book from Mr. Coelho, I get the feeling that his books can’t be read just once, they need to be revisited again in between the different phases of your life. When you think that you’ve forgotten the lessons in the book, you’ll have to pick it up and read it again with fresh, new eyes colored by your new experiences.