Thursday, May 9, 2013

My take on: Manuscript Found in Accra

I've never read a book by Paulo Coelho before, but sometimes it's hard to pass up a book by author of his caliber. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from his latest book, Manuscript Found in Accra. The title makes me wonder what exactly was found in Accra. I wasn't sure if I should be taking that title literally or figuratively. I was intrigued and had to find out which was true.

As Jerusalem awaits the invasion in 1099, a mysterious man, known as the Copt, reads words of wisdom to the people. I found myself thinking, do words really work in situations like this? Wouldn't some sort of action be a better way to go? I was expecting a fictional narrative, but it feels more like a self-help or advice book. In this story, everyone is frightened. Everyone is worried about the future. Will they survive the impending invasion? Will there be anything left for them after the invasion? I thought maybe there would be some kind of action taken, and the words of would be a small piece of the book. But each chapter is a lesson for life, lessons that are very relevant even in 2013.

There are a lot of gems in this book, but there was one that stood out the most to me. I can't quote it directly, because I have advanced copy. The gist of my favorite passage is that young people are big dreamers and they also dream of solving the problems of the world. It sounds so true. When you're young you think you can do anything, but once you go out in the real world you start to think differently. You develop a more cynical view of life, and you struggle to find your place in life. It's a great insight, but I'm not so sure people awaiting an invasion would want to hear it!

Stay away from people who think they are stronger than you because they are hiding their own problems or insecurities. A good lesson for everyone.

I got the impression that this is supposed to be fiction. I read fiction differently and I have different expectations. Most of the time when I'm reading fiction, I'm expecting to be transported into a different world and to be entertained. When I'm reading non-fiction, biographies, memoirs, or self-help, I'm expecting to learn something new or to be inspired. I felt a mix of everything with this book. I think this is one of those books that has to be read twice. I think I would have an even greater appreciation for this book if I read it twice. In my experience, I think the words sink in deeper with a second read. It's a short book, so it's definitely worth the time. I think there is something for everyone in this book, so give it a try.

Rating: Give it a try

Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Knopf) in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Don't know what part of me made me buy this one. In this book, Coelho tries to bring together the solutions to various aspects of our life, like enmity, hatred, love, loneliness, but he fails to dilate your pupils. He presents these ideas as answers to the questions asked by the people of Accra. Infact, had the book been full of cliches of our lives, it would have been a bit better. But Coelho went on his own way to write a "GOSPEL", when everyone knows that such things can only find utterance in one's own precarious state. Paulo Coelho is in the prime of his career, and it seems he has forgotten those philosophies that previously drew readers to his books.
    If you are in a precarious state, searching for purpose in life, do not read this book. Instead, go for self-help books, they are really better and will encourage you.
    Or you may read Coelho's other books, but mind you, this one is a disaster.

  2. I have never read a book by him, but I'm guessing it's a departure from his other stuff. It's definitely not for everyone, but I don't think it's a disaster.