Lauded as one of the greatest Brazilian authors in history, Paulo Coelho has shaken the world of literature quite literally in the last decade or so. His fictional books and autobiographies, often rooted in his own life experiences, have won him accolades and worldwide popularity.
Since his first book published in 1982, Coelho has sold more than 100 million books in over 150 countries worldwide, and his works have been translated into 71 languages, earning him the title as the all-time bestselling Portuguese language author.
Brazil’s Influence on Coelho
Undoubtedly, his birthplace Brazil played an important role in his success as a writer. Although his works are rarely associated with his home country, Brazil’s influence on his personality and personal growth is often reflected in his writing. Brazil has helped shaped this extremely talented writer into who he is today.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Coelho wanted to be a writer since he was a teenager. His parents were so appalled that they committed him to a mental institution from which he escaped three times before being released at the age of 20. After enrolling in law school, he dropped out a year later and led life as a hippie, traveling through South America, North Africa, Mexico, and Europe. Upon his return to Brazil, Coelho worked as a songwriter for several singers including Brazilian rock star, Raul Seixas.
Fulfilling A Lifelong Dream
The turning point in his life came when he did the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain – during which he had a spiritual awakening that led him to write the book, The Pilgrimage. In an interview, Coelho shared, ” I was very happy in the things I was doing. I was doing something that gave me food and water – I was working, I had a person whom I loved, I had money, but I was not fulfilling my dream. My dream was, and still is, to be a writer.”
He went on to fulfill his dream of becoming an author, publishing one or two books per year – many of which have become best sellers worldwide. These days, Coelho and his wife split their time between Europe and Rio de Janeiro. In his hometown of Rio, he set up the Paulo Coelho Institute, where he gives free schooling to over 360 Brazilian street children in hope of giving the future generation a chance to learn.
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Photo | Germania Rodriguez