Book Review: Manuscript Found In Accra by Paulo Coelho

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.



Book Review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Saturday morning I decided to go to the library to find some books on languages. After looking around and not finding what I wanted to find I was about to head out when my eye was caught by this book:

I read a couple of pages, was intrigued by the simple but profound writing and checked it out. I started the book when I arrived home and finished it the next day. It is not a long book, less than 200 pages, but the lessons within could take up volumes and volumes. Without divulging the plot, the story follows the events of a young shepherd who leaves his homeland in Spain and to travel to Egypt to see the Pyramids and find buried treasure. I love stories about traveling through the Sahara, the Pyramids, and buried treasure  so the story-line naturally appealed to me. However, much more than that is the writing itself that made me keep reading. If any of you have read “The Little Prince”  by Antoine Saint Exupery, you’ll understand what I mean when I describe Coelho’s style as simple but profound. “The Alchemist” reminded me very much of the classic by Saint Exupery and it’s no wonder that it has been translated in over 50 languages. I’m just amazed that I’ve never heard about this book. Coelho first published this in his native Brazil in 1988 and then it was translated into English in 1993 and here I am reading it 23 years later. I feel like I’m really late to the party! But if you’re late like me — don’t delay, read it now!

I need to return my copy to the library now, but I will be purchasing a copy of my own. This is the type of book that reveals a little bit more each time you revisit it.