cover image Maktub: An Inspirational Companion to ‘The Alchemist’

Maktub: An Inspirational Companion to ‘The Alchemist’

Paulo Coelho, trans. from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa. HarperOne, $24.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-06334-6543

Novelist Coelho (The Pilgrimage) gathers an eclectic array of the parables, musings, and ephemera he published from 1993 to 1994 in a daily column for the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo. Inspired by Pablo Picasso (“God is an artist.... He was never trying to follow a style; he was simply doing whatever he felt like doing”) and St. Francis of Assisi (the spiritual journey “is, above all, a challenge... anyone who uses it to escape from his problems will never get very far”), Coelho meditates on creative and spiritual quests; the power of a disciplined mind (negative thoughts “can’t harm you as long as you don’t allow yourself to be seduced by them”); and how unconditional love for others “transforms the Universe around us.” The parables for which the author is best known are carefully wrought even if they convey standard messages, as in a story about a servant who misinterprets his master’s instruction to “entrust everything to God” by failing to tie up their horses, which later run away (the takeaway being that God can appear in unlikely places, including within humans). These brief nuggets of wisdom are conveyed in evocative prose (“God acts as the echo of our actions”) and enrich the themes of faith, destiny, and spirituality running through Coelho’s most famous works. The author’s many fans will find much to appreciate. (Mar.)