The Zahir : Book Review


Some books, that can change one’s life forever, in many unexplained ways..

The Zahir is one such novel, written by famous author Paulo Coelho. I read this book long time back, dunno.. may be some 6 years ago. When I read it then, I found it as a nice book. I had liked it a lot. But a lot has changed since then..with regards to myself.  A few days back, as I was going through my Shelfari book list, this book caught my eye. Something stirred within me and I felt this sudden need to read the book again. And now, when I finished reading it, it was a completely different experience. It taught me a lot.

Zahir, in arabic means means Obsession, a thing, which completely fills your mind, and you cant think of anything but that thing..!!

Plot : The story mainly consists of 3 characters, The narrator, Esther and Mikhail..and the journey is put down in 4 parts :

I AM A FREE MAN, HANS’S QUESTION, ARIADNE’S THREAD, THE RETURN TO ITHACA.

The narrator is a famous writer who is living a comfortable life. All is going well(so he thinks) until one day, when he discovers that Esther, his wife has disappeared. Was she kidnapped?murdered? (well, she was a war correspondent), or eloped? (with the guy called Mikhail, she used to talk about)? The search begins. The narrator meets Mikhail who promises to take him to Esther. But not before making him realize that in order to find his wife, he must find himself. That the life that he calls perfect is not at all perfect, its too materialistic and fake to be called as Life. The obsession to find Esther turns into a journey that shows the narrator and the readers too, that it is always important to know when something has reached its end..that whatever that has started should always meet its end. His meetings with Mikhail force him to analyse his marriage and where he went wrong. This journey that begins with searching Esther ends in understanding energy of love and getting back the real self that was lost somewhere while climbing up the path..

The book is written in typical Paulo Coelho’s style, where the readers dont just find it as a story, but a pilgrimage that they are doing. Parts of the book are written in Paris and St-Martin in France, in Madrid and Barcelona in Spain, in Amsterdam, on a road in Belgium, in Almaty and on the Kazakhstan steppes. Every word that he writes is valuable..at least to me. All that is written feels like its going on within. He has used some real life illustrations. Coping with loss of loved ones is never easy, but if you try and look upon the past, you’ll find it easy enough to let go and stop blaming others for what you lost cz of your own mistakes. The words chosen and the conversations are amazing. At some points I really found it hard to believe that someone can be so true about what actually should happen instead of what usually happens. I found the book highly inspiring. It is not a self help book, mind you. At times the book becomes a little heavy, but all through the read, it keeps the readers bound to its concept. With The Zahir, Paulo Coelho demonstrates his powerful and fascinating storytelling along with an ingenious insight into relations, energy of love, soul searching and letting go of all that stops you from completing the journey of life in actual terms.

Well, I learnt a lot from The Zahir. It taught me:

  • How to maintain a relationship well.
  • Expressing love is very important.
  • You should constantly empty your heart, mind and soul of the past so that there is space for new thoughts.
  • Conversations help a lot.

Some of my favorite quotes are :

  • Complete the circle. Not out of bride, inability to arrogance, but simply because whatever it is no longer fits in your life. Close the door, change the record, clean the house, get rid of the dust. Stop being who you were and become who you are.
  • In the last few decades, expectations about marriage as the road to personal fulfillment have grown considerable, as have disappointments and dissatisfaction.
  • If what makes us happy is different from what we have now, then we must either change once and for all or stay as we are, feeling even more unhappy.
  • We can let the energy of love flow instead of placing it in a jar and leaving it aside.
  • ..there is nothing worse than the feeling that no one cares whether we exist or not, that no one is interested in what we have to say about life, and that the world can continue turning without our awkward presence.

I give full marks to The Zahir and would highly recommend it to you readers. It is a beautiful journey that gives an insight into oneself and should not be missed. I hope you guys enjoy it. Tc!!

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