The Zahir

The Zahir

by Paulo Coelho

Paperback(Large Print Edition)

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Overview

Set in Paris and in the enchanting landscape of central Asia, this new novel by the author of the international bestsellers The Alchemist and Eleven Minutes follows the journey of a man obsessed with finding the wife who left him without an explanation.

The narrator of The Zahir is a bestselling novelist who lives in Paris and enjoys all the privileges that money and celebrity bring. His wife of ten years, Esther, is a war correspondent who, despite her professional success and freedom from the conventional constraints of marriage, is facing an existential crisis. When she disappears along with a friend, Mikhail, who may or may not be her lover, the authorities question the narrator. Was Esther kidnapped, killed, or did she simply abandon a marriage that left her unfulfilled? The narrator doesn't have any answers but he has plenty of questions of his own.

Then one day Mikhail, the man with whom Esther was last seen, finds the narrator and promises to take him to his wife. In his attempt to recapture a love lost, the narrator discovers something unexpected about himself.

A haunting and redemptive story about the dark side of obsession, The Zahir explores its potential to both fulfill our dreams and to destroy them. It is also a thoughtful meditation on faith, celebrity, marriage — and their relationships to freedom and creativity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061253089
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/23/2007
Edition description: Large Print Edition
Pages: 408
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.92(d)

About the Author

Paulo Coelho, born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, is one of the bestselling and most influential authors in the world. The Alchemist, The Pilgrimage, The Valkyries, Brida, Veronika Decides to Die, Eleven Minutes, The Zahir, The Witch of Portobello, The Winner Stands Alone, Aleph, Manuscript Found in Accra, and Adultery, among others, have sold over 175 million copies worldwide, and The Alchemist has been on the New York Times bestseller list for over 360 weeks.

Paulo Coelho has been a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters since 2002, and in 2007, he was appointed United Nations Messenger of Peace. He is also the most followed author on social media.

Hometown:

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Date of Birth:

August 24, 1947

Place of Birth:

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Education:

Left law school in second year

Read an Excerpt

The Zahir

Chapter One

Her name is Esther; she is a war correspondent who has just returned from Iraq because of the imminent invasion of that country; she is thirty years old, married, without children. He is an unidentified male, between twenty-three and twenty-five years old, with dark, Mongolian features. The two were last seen in a café on the Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré.

The police were told that they had met before, although no one knew how often: Esther had always said that the man -- who concealed his true identity behind the name Mikhail -- was someone very important, although she had never explained whether he was important for her career as a journalist or for her as a woman.

The police began a formal investigation. Various theories were put forward -- kidnapping, blackmail, a kidnapping that had ended in murder -- none of which were beyond the bounds of possibility given that, in her search for information, her work brought her into frequent contact with people who had links with terrorist cells. They discovered that, in the weeks prior to her disappearance, regular sums of money had been withdrawn from her bank account: those in charge of the investigation felt that these could have been payments made for information. She had taken no change of clothes with her, but, oddly enough, her passport was nowhere to be found.

He is a stranger, very young, with no police record, with no clue as to his identity.

She is Esther, thirty years old, the winner of two international prizes for journalism, and married.

My wife.

I immediately come under suspicion and am detained because I refuse to saywhere I was on the day she disappeared. However, a prison officer has just opened the door of my cell, saying that I'm a free man.

And why am I a free man? Because nowadays, everyone knows everything about everyone; you just have to ask and the information is there: where you've used your credit card, where you spend your time, whom you've slept with. In my case, it was even easier: a woman, another journalist, a friend of my wife, and divorced -- which is why she doesn't mind revealing that she slept with me -- came forward as a witness in my favor when she heard that I had been detained. She provided concrete proof that I was with her on the day and the night of Esther's disappearance.

I talk to the chief inspector, who returns my belongings and offers his apologies, adding that my rapid detention was entirely within the law, and that I have no grounds on which to accuse or sue the state. I say that I haven't the slightest intention of doing either of those things, that I am perfectly aware that we are all under constant suspicion and under twenty-four-hour surveillance, even when we have committed no crime.

"You're free to go," he says, echoing the words of the prison officer.

I ask: Isn't it possible that something really has happened to my wife? She had said to me once that -- understandably given her vast network of contacts in the terrorist underworld -- she occasionally got the feeling she was being followed.

The inspector changes the subject. I insist, but he says nothing.

I ask if she would be able to travel on her passport, and he says, of course, since she has committed no crime. Why shouldn't she leave and enter the country freely?

"So she may no longer be in France?"

"Do you think she left you because of that woman you've been sleeping with?"

That's none of your business, I reply. The inspector pauses for a second and grows serious; he says that I was arrested as part of routine procedure, but that he is nevertheless very sorry about my wife's disappearance. He is married himself and although he doesn't like my books (So he isn't as ignorant as he looks! He knows who I am!), he can put himself in my shoes and imagine what I must be going through.

I ask him what I should do next. He gives me his card and asks me to get in touch if I hear anything. I've watched this scene in dozens of films, and I'm not convinced; inspectors always know more than they say they do.

He asks me if I have ever met the person who was with Esther the last time she was seen alive. I say that I knew his code name, but didn't know him personally.

He asks if we have any domestic problems. I say that we've been together for ten years and have the same problems most married couples have -- nothing more.

He asks, delicately, if we have discussed divorce recently, or if my wife was considering leaving me. I tell him we have never even considered the possibility, and say again that "like all couples" we have our occasional disagreements.

Frequent or only occasional?

Occasional, I say.

He asks still more delicately if she suspected that I was having an affair with her friend. I tell him that it was the first -- and last -- time that her friend and I had slept together. It wasn't an affair; it came about simply because we had nothing else to do. It had been a bit of a dull day, neither of us had any pressing engagements after lunch, and the game of seduction always adds a little zest to life, which is why we ended up in bed together.

"You go to bed with someone just because it's a bit of a dull day?"

I consider telling him that such matters hardly form part of his investigations, but I need his help, or might need it later on. There is, after all, that invisible institution called the Favor Bank, which I have always found so very useful . . .

The Zahir. Copyright © by Paulo Coelho. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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The Zahir 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
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Anita Abdo More than 1 year ago
did anyone read this? i really want to know how much u like it?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago