Saturday, January 7, 2012

Paulo Coelho's O Alquimista

I just completed reading Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist in Portuguese, which means I can check off an item on my bucket list--#60, Read a book in Portuguese.

I skimmed some of the reviews of this book on Amazon and Goodreads, and it seems the average is 4 stars. I think that's what I'd give it. Those who rate it lower say the writing is simplistic, the characters not deep, and the language is annoying.

I think the simplistic writing is one of the reasons why I enjoyed the book, as it's my first foray into Brazilian literature and I appreciate not having to constantly stop and look up words in the dictionary. I think the annoying language is only because of the translation; it seemed quite nice in Portuguese. As it's a fable, I felt no need for the characters to be deep, even though normally I might find it bothersome that all the characters have the exact same intuitions about life and thus there is a way out of every conflict if you just follow your heart (not realistic).

One thing I didn't like was how the woman who Santiago, the protagonist, falls in love with, keeps telling him that because she's a woman of the desert, her nature is to wait for her man to return, so she wants him to go follow his dream instead of staying with her. I really didn't like that part because I HATE waiting for my husband when I have no idea when he's coming back. I guess that means I'm not by nature a woman of the desert. Honestly though I don't think there is any woman who's content to do that; they've just been conditioned that way probably by observing their mothers being beaten by their fathers if they complained about the wait.

Some parts of the book were inspiring, and the ending was fun. A good first book to read in Portuguese.


  1. I'm definitely not a woman of the desert - a woman of desserts would be a far more appropriate title.

  2. Heh heh...I think I'm that kind of woman too. And I definitely do not like to wait for my dessert.