Monday, March 31, 2008

The Zahir - Paulo Coelho

I read this book for only one reason; once I start reading, I cannot leave a book unfinished. This is one of those books which should never have been written in the first place. I am here to retaliate by writing a really critical book review.

Zahir means obsession.
The book is about a man whose wife leaves him without telling him about it, his brooding about her and his meeting her after 2 years.

There is no plot. 350 pages wasted with cynicism and pointless philosophy. Too many generalizations like, “Nobody is really happy in this world”, “Everyone is pretending to be happy”, “There is an absence of love everywhere” and the substantiation is very very weak.
There is no story at all. It’s merely a chain of this event and that; no two events related to each other or leading to anything and there is no cohesion between the events.

Toooooo many unwanted, uninteresting details throughout the book. Gory details of the protagonist’s monotonous daily life, observations that drive home no point and to make it worse, the supposed climax is no climax at all!

It’s not a work of creation but a work of construction.
When you mix all the left overs of last night, forget to add salt, sugar, pepper, lemon and have it without even heating it, this is what you get. A dish that has no taste and no name.

My only take away are certain quotations and a few interesting English words.

Freedom is not the absence of commitments but the ability to choose and commit yourself – to what is best for you.

When someone leaves, it’s because someone else is about to arrive.

An interesting Epitaph – He died when he was still alive.

Mediocrity and anonymity are the safest choice. If you opt for them, you will never face any major problems in life – This is so true.

Our true friends are those who are with us when the good things happen. They cheer us on and are pleased by our triumphs. False friends only appear at difficult times with their sad supportive faces, when in fact, our suffering is serving to console them for their own miserable lives. – This I thought was so contrary to what all of us believe…but rings as very true..

Did you know that
1.There are 4 cats and 11 lamp posts on a 10 dollar bill?
2. In French law, anyone can legally move into a building that is not being used by it’s owner?
3. There are only 30 places in this world where the sand dunes sing?
4. Napolean, Alexander the Great, Dante, Van Gogh, Lewis Carroll (who wrote Alice in Wonderland), were all epileptic. I hope the author has his facts right.

There are some interesting theories too like the importance of deleting our past history, stop trying to control love etc…but since the story he uses to bind them all is so weak, the theories don’t make an impact.

If you are like me who cannot leave a book unfinished, don’t start this one.
Revenge taken.


Pramshanks said...

I fully empathise... there are too many pop psychology and pop spiritualism books peddling the same re-chewed stuff. Some of these contain thinking that we Indians were born with or learned as 3-year-olds.

Good to read someone as frank and objective as you.. keep it up, Love

Sowmya said...

Thanks Pramod. :) Its so nice to see you here after a long time. I hope you do catch up with my other posts as well.

And I loved the way you signed off.."Keep it up love"..

CK said...

Sowmya at her fiery best ! I am reminded of another book review " Don't toss it away lightly. Throw it out with full force !"

Sowmya said...

That was interesting CK... will use it next time I read a hopeless book... :)

Anupama Kondayya said...

I have read 5 of Paulo Coelho's books but haven't had the (mis)fortune of picking this one up. And thanks to you I will not end up wasting my time on it...because I, too, am someone who cannot leave a book unfinished...

Liked the revengeful tone of the post :D

Keep writing!