Few international authors enjoy the kind of mass readership in India that 61-year-old Brazilian author Paulo Coelho does. His The Alchemist (1987), written after he made a life-altering pilgrimage to the Spanish cultural and religious
destination Santiago de Compostela, continues to be a best-seller in India. It’s not uncommon to see this book being sold alongside novels by Shobhaa Dé and Chetan Bhagat on Mumbai’s streets. One of his early works, Brida, first published in Portugese in 1980, was released recently in India. As in all his works, pop-mysticism, fantasy, love and pursuit of wisdom are some of the themes in this story about a gifted Irish girl and her journey towards spiritual enlightenment. In an email interview, Coelho told Lounge about the authors and books that have inspired him since his youth.
by Henry Miller
Miller is the writer whose works gave me the first stimulus to write. When I read his works, especially this one, I said to myself, “Ok, this is literature.” He was a rebellious writer whose books were censored for years, and that in itself is meaningful for me.
by Jorge Luis Borges
I read one of Borges’ short stories in a science-fiction magazine when I was 20, and I immediately fell in love with his style and his universe. Later on, I discovered this collection (called ‘Ficciones’ in French) that had a short story, ‘The Babel Library’, which is my all-time favourite. Borges is the only South American writer whose every book I have read and re-read.
by Jorge Amado
Amado, in my view, is the best Brazilian writer. He portrayed the Brazilian spirit to the world. This is a
brilliant book set in the
1920s, when the Cacao kings ruled Brazil — a story about adulterous love, intrigue and violence. He masterfully weaves together two plots in the book.
by Albert Camus
The very first page of this violent book mesmerized me. I read it when I was in my 30s and was fascinated by Camus’ simple and direct language. Given the increasing xenophobic tendencies prevalent in today’s world, this book is still very relevant.
by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins
This novel narrates the story of one of the last century’s most famous matadors, El Cordobés. The interesting point in its narrative is the intercalation of the great bull fight in Madrid, where Cordobés shows to his audience his fame and skill, and where he receives what is called the “alternativa”, which recognizes his gifts as a bullfighter.