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72 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finding yourself in searching for another
I've returned once again to one of my favorite authors to review his latest work. Paulo Coelho of international fame for The Alchemist, 11 Minutes and The Devil and Miss Prym, has released his latest The Zahir. According to the book, the Zahir in Arabic means present, visible, incapable of being unnoticed. It is something that grabs our thought, mind and spirit and...
Published on December 19, 2005 by Steven R. McEvoy

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99 of 109 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is not Paulo Coelho's best effort
I am a big fan of Paulo Coelho's work. I believe time will show him to be an important writer.

I first discovered him with "Veronica Decides to Die" on an airplane flight. It made me want to rush out and do something wonderful with my life, and I've recommended it to friends. Several of his titles are permanent parts of my library.

That said,...
Published on November 8, 2005 by John Hudson


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72 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finding yourself in searching for another, December 19, 2005
I've returned once again to one of my favorite authors to review his latest work. Paulo Coelho of international fame for The Alchemist, 11 Minutes and The Devil and Miss Prym, has released his latest The Zahir. According to the book, the Zahir in Arabic means present, visible, incapable of being unnoticed. It is something that grabs our thought, mind and spirit and demands our full attention. It is believed to lead to either Holiness or madness. In this book, the Zahir is a woman, an idea of a woman, a longing. Our main character sounds very familiar to our author; in fact our hero is a famous author now living in Paris, with his books being published in nearly every language. (which sounds like Mr. Coelho. This book is being published in 50 countries/languages this year alone. [...]) The author writes books that millions love, adore, and claim changes their lives. Yet he appears to have stopped living the type of deliberate life he writes about. He has settled into a complacent life.
Then one day his wife disappears. Over time she becomes his Zahir; he writes a book about love and for a while the Zahir fades. Then he meets the man he believes she had left with and the Zahir returns.
This is a wonderful story about becoming, and remembering who you were meant to be, not who you settled into. It will stir in you a passion to be more than you think you can be, and, to give more, and love more purely. Follow a man who goes in search of an estranged wife, only to find himself.
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99 of 109 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is not Paulo Coelho's best effort, November 8, 2005
I am a big fan of Paulo Coelho's work. I believe time will show him to be an important writer.

I first discovered him with "Veronica Decides to Die" on an airplane flight. It made me want to rush out and do something wonderful with my life, and I've recommended it to friends. Several of his titles are permanent parts of my library.

That said, however, I was frankly disappointed by "The Zahir." I don't believe there's the moment of transformation for any main character which we've come to expect from Paulo Coelho. I don't believe there's an adequate exploration of the conflict that gets his tale going in the first place. Things just seem to meander from one place to another until the story fills enough pages to call it a day. I sincerely believe a first time author would have found it difficult to get this published.

Buy the rest of Paulo Coelho's books. Loan them to friends. Keep them in your library so you can read them again and again. But if you really want to read this one, check it out from the public library so that you can return it when you're done.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coelho's beautiful tale captures the reader's empathy and interest both, May 28, 2007
By 
This review is from: The Zahir: A Novel of Obsession (P.S.) (Paperback)
Master storyteller Paulo Coelho's stories are all semi-autobiographical in nature, read well, are set in fascinating locations, and leave you thinking the author has somehow seen more deeply into the human spirit than most of us. It's hard to read his books without feeling deeply touched, and The Zahir is no exception.

There are themes of love, belonging, separation, anxiety, heartbreak, understanding, alienation, need, want. Many settings, in many places including Paris, Madrid, Kazakstan. The themes are ones that absorb all humankind whether we realize them or not.

I read this book at a bad time in my life, pulling it randomly from my wife's bookshelf, and being pulled into the book as if it were somehow the correct choice of all the books I could have picked. It spoke to me deeply of love and understanding, in a way that I think many couples, many who have loved or lost will instantly empathize with. Following in the narrator's steps, we arrive where he does, gain wisdom as he does, and achieve enlightenment as he does. And hopefully, find and regain true love that had been neglected, as he does.

Coelho's native language is not English, yet none of his writing feels "translated" or stilted like happens to many foreign writings when they appear in English.

It is as if the author has a special gift for storytelling that transcends individual languages, the the vast number of countries in which his books have been published seems to support that.

Whether you are looking to be entertained by a lively tale, or are seeking solace and understanding as I was, The Zahir will fill your need. If you are in need of both then it behooves you to read everything this master storyteller has written.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars My first one star review, July 31, 2007
By 
trainreader (Montclair, N.J.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Zahir: A Novel of Obsession (P.S.) (Paperback)
God, how I hated this book! It starts out OK: a best selling but critically disliked author (the narrator of the book) and his wife become too complacent in their marriage and start taking each other for granted. The wife splits, and, after some serious soul searching, she becomes the author's "Zahir" (which means "obsession" or "great desire." The word is repeated in the book about a thousand times just to clue us in on the profundity of the concept). He then commences on a spiritual quest to get her back (which, at one of the novel's low points, includes frolicking with insightful street beggars). Less than 100 pages in, the book devolves into a silly philosophical surrealistic dissertation on the "energy of love." I swear, it almost reminded me of that dreadful early 70's musical "Godspell," except without the soundtrack. OK, I get it! We should try to love each other! Why not write a three page essay instead of this la-la land book?

To me, "The Zahir," is an author out-of-control with his self-indulgent egoism. I'm wondering if Paul Coelho believed he would start a movement based on the "energy of love," kind of how Ayn Rand started "Objectivism." Fortunately, the type was large and the chapters short -- otherwise I would never have finished the book.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Excruciating, April 6, 2007
This review is from: The Zahir: A Novel of Obsession (P.S.) (Paperback)
"The Zahir" started out well, but about 100 pages into the book my interest level dropped. It, in no way, mentally stimulated me. I could not read one more page of the main character's self-indulgent and arrogant thoughts and actions. I guess, if you are the type of person that needs to love the main character in order to read a novel, then this is not your book. I couldn't stand him and I really hope that the main character isn't a reflection Paul Coelho. I almost threw this book away, but I instead donated it. I loved "The Alchemist."
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Redundant Disappointment, February 17, 2007
This review is from: The Zahir: A Novel of Obsession (P.S.) (Paperback)
This book is simply unfortunate. Firstly, if this book is the first book you have read by this author, and if you are so disappointed by it that you do not want to read any of his other work you will be doing yourself a grave disservice. When Coelho writes from his heart and not his vanity he is an amazing storyteller. Thus, this book is not representative of some of his previous work, which is quite excellent. With this book it seemed that he felt that people love his books so much that they would also love reading about his process in writing his books, and not just that he uses the book as an autobiographical tale. Major problems for me with this book were that clearly the author and the main male character are one in the same. Coelho never admits this, but he has flagrantly made the character so similar to himself that it is insanely ridiculous that he is not recognizing this as an autobiography of some sort. Secondly, the characters are dreadfully and tediously boring, and mentioning the Eiffel tower, his success, fame, money, loyal readership, and open marriage a gazillion times doesn't change this fact. Thirdly, he somehow has convinced himself that breaking up with someone that you have spent a decade of your life with, and then thinking about them and missing them is obsessive instead of a natural part of grieving a broken heart, this makes the whole zahir story line quite ridiculous. Fourth, what has come across as bits of insightful wisdom in his other books seem forced and contrived in this story, because everything else in the book is so ludricrous. Lastly, the story of his missing/runaway wife made no sense to me, and no matter how much I tried to sympathize with something in the storyline I was not able to. If you are interested in knowing many details, however boring they may be, about the author's life this book will fulfill what you are looking for. Otherwise, I agree that it really is something to be borrowed, because paying for this book would be a sad waste of money, and you would already be wasting your time by reading it. Why waste both.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, September 1, 2005
By 
Silvia L. Peneva "Sisi" (Kuwait- Bulgaria- Germany) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is the first book iv read by paulo Coelho and i'm fascinated. Most people conform to the rigid rules of society which really do annoy us but we keep following them because we think they're the only way we can survive in today's world. Coelho writes about leaving those rules to some extent behind us and focusing more on how short life is...how even the smallest thing we do can bring us joy and we should enjoy those small things while we still can. To be passionate, loving and live for every moment in life. A powerful novel which makes you really think. Think about what life really is and whether you are really happy the way you are.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Coelho is running on fumes with this one, July 25, 2006
It seems that most people who rated this book highly have not read the author's other works. If this were the first book I ever read about spirituality and a personal quest to better oneself, then I might be so enchanted by the flavor of the book that that I would rate it highly as well.

Unfortunately, I have read seven other books by Paulo Coelho, and this one is easily the worst. It is untolerably boring. The weak plot fails to redeem itself, even at the very end when the main character (ostensibly a representation of Coelho himself, based on the endless babbling about how hard it it is to be a best-selling author) finds his wife. I will refrain from writing more plot spoilers, though, because the plot was already sufficiently spoiled when Coelho put it on paper.

Do yourself a favor. Read these three books by Coelho in this order: 1. The Pilgrimage, 2. The Fifth Mountain, and 3. The Alchemist. There you will discover the inspirational spirit that made Coelho so beloved. In The Zahir you will only find a waste of your reading time.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly Vague, February 11, 2006
By 
LoriDee (New York USA) - See all my reviews
I have enjoyed other novels by Paulo Coelho and was eagerly anticipating this one. I'm sorry to say I was disappointed. The premise of the book seemed intriguing, and the story posed some interesting questions but the writing just never grabbed me and pulled me in. Turning page after page I kept thinking, there has to be more, but the story never delivers. The characters are boring and unlikeable, although it takes place all over the world you never get a good sense of the surroundings and on a spiritual level, the story never gives us that "AHA" moment. It was like anticipating the release of a movie and finding out it's better as a rental.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A FABULOUS FABULIST COMPELLINGLY READ, September 3, 2005
This review is from: The Zahir CD (Audio CD)
British stage, film and TV actor Jamie Glover gives a sterling performance, immediately intriguing listeners with a mesmerizing story of obsession. Told in the first person by a nameless narrator, Glover ably carries us along on a journey, a search not only for a loved one but also perhaps for meaning, answers to the riddle of life.

The narrator is a successful author living in Paris with his wife, Esther, who is an accomplished journalist, a war correspondent. She has just returned from Iraq only to disappear again. It's not known whether she ran away or was kidnaped, whether she is alive or dead. She was last seen with a man younger than she, a man who hid his true identity but was known as Mikhail. Could he be her lover?

According to author Coelho the idea of the zahir stems from the Islamic tradition, it means "incapable of going unnoticed. It can refer to an object or a person, and that object or person gradually takes over our every thought, until we are unable to think of anything else. This could be considered a state of holiness or a state of madness."

We'll leave it to the listener to decide which description is most appropriate for our narrator as he undertakes a journey to find Esther. He knows that she felt a deep unrest and was unsatisfied with her life, although he cannot comprehend why. He was stunned when she announced that she wanted to become a war correspondent, yet he also understood that he could not stand in her way.

Brazilian born Paul Coelho (The Alchemist) is very much a fabulist, an extremely fine one. His works have been published in 150 countries and translated into 59 languages. Obviously, his appeal is immense. For this reader/listener one reason so many are drawn to him is that he causes us to think, to probe deeply within ourselves and perhaps reassess what is truly important and what is not. He seems to be reminding us that we change, life changes.

Whether my assessment is correct or not the works of this author are gifts, radiant, compelling, and utterly fascinating. - Gail Cooke
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The Zahir: A Novel of Obsession (P.S.)
The Zahir: A Novel of Obsession (P.S.) by Paulo Coelho (Paperback - July 3, 2006)
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