WITCH OF PORTOBELLO THE
About the Book
How do we find the courage to be true to ourselves – even if we are unsure of who we are?
That is the central question posed by Paulo Coelho’s riveting new work, The Witch of Portobello. It is the story of Athena, a mysterious young woman born in Romania, raised in Beirut and living in London. Her life is told by the many who knew her well – or hardly at all.
‘She was my teacher, charged with passing on the sacred mysteries, with awakening the unknowing energy we all possess.’ Andrea McCain, actress
‘Athena’s greatest problem was that she was a woman of the twenty-second century living in the twenty-first, and making no secret of the fact either. Did she pay a price? She certainly did.’ Deidre O’Neill, known as Edda
‘No one places her dreams in the hands of those who might destroy them. No one, that is, but Athena.’ Heron Ryan, journalist
Like The Alchemist, The Witch of Portobello is the kind of story that will transform the way readers think about love, passion, joy and sacrifice.
The Brazilian author PAULO COELHO was born in 1947 in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Before dedicating his life completely to literature, he worked as theatre director and actor, lyricist and journalist.
Coelho wrote song lyrics for many famous performers in Brazilian music, such as Elis Regina and Rita Lee. Yet his most well known work has been done with Raul Seixas. Together they wrote such successes as Eu nasci há dez mil anos atrás (I was born ten thousand years ago), Gita and Al Capone, amongst other 60 songs.
His fascination with the spiritual quest dates back to his hippie days, when he travelled the world learning about secret societies, oriental religions, etc.
In 1982 Coelho published his first book, Hell Archives, which failed to make any kind of impact. In 1985 he contributed to the Practical Manual of Vampirism, although he later tried to take it off the shelves, since he considered it “of bad quality”. In 1986, PAULO COELHO did the pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostella, an experience later to be documented in his book The Pilgrimage.
In the following year, COELHO published The Alchemist. Slow initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, but it went on to become one of the best selling Brazilian books of all time.
Other titles include Brida (1990), The Valkyries (1992), By the river Piedra I sat Down and Wept (1994), the collection of his best columns published in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo entitle Maktub (1994), the compilation of texts Phrases (1995), The Fifth Mountain (1996), Manual of a Warrior of Light (1997), Veronika decides to die (1998), The Devil and Miss Prym (2000), the compilation of traditional tales in Stories for parents, children and grandchildren (2001), Eleven Minutes (2003), The Zahir (2005)
He also adapted The Gift (Henry Drummond) and Love letters of a prophet (Kalil Gibran).
To date, Coelho has sold a total of 85 million copies and, according to the magazine publishing Trends; he was the most sold author in the world in 2003 with his book Eleven Minutes – even though at the time it hadn’t been released in the United States, Japan or 10 other countries!
Also according to Publishing Trends, The Alchemist was to be found in the 6th place of world sales in 2003. Eleven Minutes topped all lists in the world, except for England, where it was in second place. The Zahir, published in 2005, was in third place of bestsellers according to Publishing Trends, after Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.
The Alchemist was one of the most important literary phenomena of the 20th century. It reaches the first place in bestselling lists in 18 countries, and so far has sold 30 million copies.
The book has been praised by different personalities ranging from the Nobel Prize Kenzaburo Oe to the singer Madonna, who considers it one of her favorite books. It has equally inspired many projects – such as a musical in Japan, theatre plays in France, Belgium, USA, Turkey, Italy, and Switzerland. It is also the theme of two symphonies (Italy and USA) and had its text illustrated by the famous French artist Moebius (author of the sceneries for he Fifth Element and Alien).
His work has been translated in 65 languages and edited in more than 150 countries.
PAULO COELHO is:
• Member of the Board of the Shimon Peres Institute for Peace
• UNESCO special counsellor for “Intercultural Dialogues and Spiritual Convergences”
• Board Member of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship
• Member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters
Major prizes and decorations
• Distinction of Honour from the City of Odense (Hans Christian Andersen Award) (Denmark 2007)
• Las Pergolas Prize 2006 by the Association of Mexican Booksellers (ALMAC) (Mexico 2006)
• "I Premio Álava en el Corazón" (Spain 2006)
• "Cruz do Mérito do Empreendedor Juscelino Kubitschek" (Brazil 2006)
• “Wilbur Award”, presented by the Religion Communicators Council (USA 2006)
• Kiklop Literary Award for The Zahir in the category "Hit of the Year" (Croatia 2006)
• DirectGroup International Author Award (Germany 2005)
• "Goldene Feder Award" (Germany 2005)
• "The Budapest Prize" (Hungary 2005)
• "Order of Honour of Ukraine" (Ukraine 2004)
• "Order of St. Sophia" for contribution to revival of science and culture (Ukraine 2004)
• "Nielsen Gold Book Award" for The Alchemist (UK 2004)
• "Ex Libris Award" for Eleven Minutes (Serbia 2004)
• Golden Bestseller Prize from the largest circulation daily "Večernje Novosti" (Serbia 2004)
• "Best Fiction Corine International Award 2002" for The Alchemist (Germany 2002)
• "Club of Budapest Planetary Arts Award 2002" as a recognition of his literary work (Germany 2002)
• "Bambi 2001 Award" (Germany 2001)
• "XXIII Premio Internazionale Fregene" (Italy 2001)
• "Crystal Mirror Award" (Poland 2000)
• "Chevalier de l'Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur" (France 1999)
• "Crystal Award" World Economic Forum (1999)
• "Golden Medal of Galicia" (Spain 1999)
• Finalist for the "International IMPAC Literary Award" (Ireland 1997 and 2000)
• "Comendador de Ordem do Rio Branco" (Brazil 1998)
• "Golden Book" (Yugoslavia 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2004)
• "Super Grinzane Cavour Book Award" (Italy 1996)
• "Flaiano International Award" (Italy 1996)
• "Knight of Arts and Letters" (France 1996)
• "Grand Prix Litteraire Elle" (France 1995)
PAULO COELHO entered he Guinness Book of Records as the author that signed more books in different editions (October 9th 2003, at the Frankfurt Book Fair).
A Norwegian community, Arendal, gave copies of The Alchemist to all its civil servants, as a way of stimulating a new type of thought.
Many MBA courses, such as the one from The Graduate School of Business of the University of Chicago recommends the reading of The Alchemis