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The narrator of The Zahir is a bestselling novelist who lives in Paris and enjoys all the privileges money and celebrity bring. His wife of ten years, Esther, is a war correspondent who has disappeared along with a friend, Mikhail, who may or may not be her lover.

Was Esther kidnapped, murdered, or did she simply escape a marriage that left her unfulfilled? The narrator doesn't have any answers, but he has plenty of questions of his own. Then one day Mikhail finds the narrator and promises to reunite him with his wife. In his attempt to recapture a lost love, the narrator discovers something unexpected about himself.

Topics: Spirituality , Marriage, Writers, Obsession, Celebrities, Philosophical, Postmodern, and Paris

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061758010
List price: $10.99
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Man dies and goes to heaven.more
Slow to get through at first but at halfway through you really can start to connect to the main character and understand his obsession. The ending is absolutely fantastic.more
a book about a husband who is searching for his wife and also wants to know why she left him...a good read but depressing at times...more
A novel following a journey of a novelist in search of his wife, or rather of obsessing over why his wife left. But instead of finding her, he finds out things about himself.This novel had a wonderfully strong start, but started to get very disconnected in the middle. Overall, it was such a joy and such an experience to read. After reading "The Alchemist," I had no interest in reading anymore of Coelho's work, but this novel inspires me to give his work another chance. Looking forward to more Coelho!Three and a half out of five.more
When Esther, the wife of a famed author becomes a war correspondent, and disappears, along with her assistant, Mikhael, the author can only assume that the two are having an affair.As hard as he tries to let her go, she has become his zahir, a thing that cannot be forgotten. The desire to find her intensifies, burning ever stronger, the harder he tries to forget her.When Mikhael appears, bearing the news that Esther is in Kazakhistan, the author sets off on a quest, both spiritual and literal, to find her.This book is very typical Coelho. It is obvious that he writes from deep within his soul, with great passion. Although I do find his brand of spirituality interesting, it is not for me. I prefer to read his work as more of a simple, basic quest. I can only take his work in small doses, but find him enjoyable enough to read if I'm in the mood.more
I'm afraid my journey with Coelho is over. I was intrigued by The Alchemist, even though it smacked of neo-gnosticism. Veronica Decides to Die had such a twisted premise, I could overlook the philosophy. The Devil and Miss Prym, again, was such an interesting take on a folksy tale, I half-enjoyed it. In The Zahir, Coelho's mushy spiritualism collided so violently with my worldview it was a chore to read.I did enjoy the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the book—the cultures of Brazil, France and Kazakhstan combine to make interesting reading. Coelho's prose is beautiful to read, as well. He moves effortlessly between dialogue and thought.In the end, though, I'm tired of people thinking that leaving their old life behind will allow them to "find themselves". That mid-life-crisis myth has spoiled too many relationships for me to take it seriously.more
Completely unexpected...it's one of those novels that says so much you have to read it 50 times to understand even a paragraph the way it deserves to be understood.One of the things I love most about Coelho is the...almost Pagan...approach to things. If you have very traditional concepts of love, marriage, religion, nature and miracles, I don't think you'd get very much out of this. For me, Coelho's works are explorations of things I already feel and believe without giving in to confirmation bias. I thought this story would be dark, a sort of descent into madness. It turned out to be anything but that. It's rather a story of redemption from obsession, and not just any obsession, but the obsession with the way things are supposed to be. That is the ultimate Zahir, and a Zahir that belongs to all of us at one time or another.more
I hadn't read a Paulo Coelho book for a while and this book has reminded me what I love about his writing. I am definitely intending to read more of his work. I love the way the prose pulls you in and keeps you interested. There are many inspirational and spiritual passages in the novel which seem to be written with the intention of giving hope and direction to the reader.The book is about an internationally acclaimed author whose wife has disappeared. She is a War correspondent and, therefore, the husband does not know whether she left him, or whether she was kidnapped or something far worse. One day a man appears at one of the author's book signings with a message from the wife to say that she is okay. The husband then becomes increasingly obsessed with idea of finding her. She becomes his 'Zahir' which is defined as something which, once seen or touched, can not be forgotten. We follow the husband in his journey to find his wife, and also in his own personal spiritual journey along the way.It is described as a novel of 'obsession' and, in my view, Paulo has done a great job in writing the book in such a way that the reader has almost a compulsion to read on to find out what happens - almost as if the book becomes an obsession.The book isn't perfect, so I can't give it five stars. I did find it a bit confusing in places, as there are often long conversations in the book between characters (sometimes multiple characters) without reference as to who is the speaker. Also, the lack of quotation marks at the beginning of new paragraphs when a character was making a speech or talking over a few paragraphs, was a bit annoying and also confusing.Finally, I was quite disappointed with the ending; for me it was too predictable and a bit contrived.But on the whole I enjoyed this book, and would definitely recommend it.more
This is Coelho's best novel since the [Alchemist]. I found that I wanted to stay with the story even when its profundity wasn't there. The story is narrated by a person who may be a mirror of the author, I don't know. His wife has left hime for mysterious reasons, much of which deals with the peculiarites of love and relationships. A Kazakh immigrant provdies an alternate spiritual path which attracts a number of young people, and has entwined relationship with the narrator's wife. Much of the story is laid in Paris and provides some look into an aspect of the homeless world.more
A long obsessive quest to reunite with the beloved.more
Pretentious and pseudo-philosophical/intellectual.more
According to the writer Jorge Luis Borges, the idea of the Zahir comes from Islamic tradition and is thought to have arisen at some point in the eighteenth century. Zahir, in arabic, means visible, present, incapable of going unnoticed. It is someone or something which, once we have come into contact with them or it, gradually occupies our every thought, until we can think of nothing else. This can be considered either a state of holiness or of madness.Faubourg Saint-PeresEncyclopedia of the Fantastic (1953)This book, was another journey with Coelho into his world of the spirit, and this time the real essence of love. What it means to love someone, and yourself... And again, the main character appears to be him, with the same background and his life experiences, although I'm not sure that this particular thing ever happened to him. The narrator/protagonist in the story is never named. The book also addresses happiness and wealth. He talks about what it's like to be a celebrity, more importantly, what it's like to be a human being while being a celebrity.more
The Zahir is the obsession of a person. The narrator’s obsession is a lost love, a woman. The narrator is part Coelho. The overall story is not great, but as typical with Coelho the beauty of the book is in individual passages, especially those dealing with letting your past go so you can have a future.more
A strangely written post-modern story of love, the meaning of life, spirituality, and the battle against conformity.The narrator seems to speak directly to the reader for most of the book. He tells the story of his life, and his marriage. His journey to find love, his place in life, and how he lost his wife. His wife becomes his obsession, his Zahir. As he works through the process of trying to figure out how he lost her, where she is, if he wants her back, and how to go about it, he realizes that the Zahir is a symptom of the problem. The narrator explains his philosophy on love and life, and what he has learned, the mistakes he has made, and the spiritual growth he has achieved. At first it was not enjoyable because of the odd method of telling the story, then the narrator seemed unlikeable. But around page 25, it because interesting, and I was hooked. I don't know if I would read more of this type of fiction, but it was a change for me and it sucked me in. The narrator also seemed to be exploring lots of uncomfortable truths about life and living. If the reader has not already done some thinking along these lines, s/he might become uncomfortable and unable to enjoy the flow of his journey. There was a bit of magical realism mixed in with a character who has visions. The story takes place mostly in Paris, and then ends on the Asian steppes of Kazakhstan. All in all very interesting.more
An excellent story about one man's search for his life's love and finding himself along the way.more
Read all 20 reviews

Reviews

Man dies and goes to heaven.more
Slow to get through at first but at halfway through you really can start to connect to the main character and understand his obsession. The ending is absolutely fantastic.more
a book about a husband who is searching for his wife and also wants to know why she left him...a good read but depressing at times...more
A novel following a journey of a novelist in search of his wife, or rather of obsessing over why his wife left. But instead of finding her, he finds out things about himself.This novel had a wonderfully strong start, but started to get very disconnected in the middle. Overall, it was such a joy and such an experience to read. After reading "The Alchemist," I had no interest in reading anymore of Coelho's work, but this novel inspires me to give his work another chance. Looking forward to more Coelho!Three and a half out of five.more
When Esther, the wife of a famed author becomes a war correspondent, and disappears, along with her assistant, Mikhael, the author can only assume that the two are having an affair.As hard as he tries to let her go, she has become his zahir, a thing that cannot be forgotten. The desire to find her intensifies, burning ever stronger, the harder he tries to forget her.When Mikhael appears, bearing the news that Esther is in Kazakhistan, the author sets off on a quest, both spiritual and literal, to find her.This book is very typical Coelho. It is obvious that he writes from deep within his soul, with great passion. Although I do find his brand of spirituality interesting, it is not for me. I prefer to read his work as more of a simple, basic quest. I can only take his work in small doses, but find him enjoyable enough to read if I'm in the mood.more
I'm afraid my journey with Coelho is over. I was intrigued by The Alchemist, even though it smacked of neo-gnosticism. Veronica Decides to Die had such a twisted premise, I could overlook the philosophy. The Devil and Miss Prym, again, was such an interesting take on a folksy tale, I half-enjoyed it. In The Zahir, Coelho's mushy spiritualism collided so violently with my worldview it was a chore to read.I did enjoy the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the book—the cultures of Brazil, France and Kazakhstan combine to make interesting reading. Coelho's prose is beautiful to read, as well. He moves effortlessly between dialogue and thought.In the end, though, I'm tired of people thinking that leaving their old life behind will allow them to "find themselves". That mid-life-crisis myth has spoiled too many relationships for me to take it seriously.more
Completely unexpected...it's one of those novels that says so much you have to read it 50 times to understand even a paragraph the way it deserves to be understood.One of the things I love most about Coelho is the...almost Pagan...approach to things. If you have very traditional concepts of love, marriage, religion, nature and miracles, I don't think you'd get very much out of this. For me, Coelho's works are explorations of things I already feel and believe without giving in to confirmation bias. I thought this story would be dark, a sort of descent into madness. It turned out to be anything but that. It's rather a story of redemption from obsession, and not just any obsession, but the obsession with the way things are supposed to be. That is the ultimate Zahir, and a Zahir that belongs to all of us at one time or another.more
I hadn't read a Paulo Coelho book for a while and this book has reminded me what I love about his writing. I am definitely intending to read more of his work. I love the way the prose pulls you in and keeps you interested. There are many inspirational and spiritual passages in the novel which seem to be written with the intention of giving hope and direction to the reader.The book is about an internationally acclaimed author whose wife has disappeared. She is a War correspondent and, therefore, the husband does not know whether she left him, or whether she was kidnapped or something far worse. One day a man appears at one of the author's book signings with a message from the wife to say that she is okay. The husband then becomes increasingly obsessed with idea of finding her. She becomes his 'Zahir' which is defined as something which, once seen or touched, can not be forgotten. We follow the husband in his journey to find his wife, and also in his own personal spiritual journey along the way.It is described as a novel of 'obsession' and, in my view, Paulo has done a great job in writing the book in such a way that the reader has almost a compulsion to read on to find out what happens - almost as if the book becomes an obsession.The book isn't perfect, so I can't give it five stars. I did find it a bit confusing in places, as there are often long conversations in the book between characters (sometimes multiple characters) without reference as to who is the speaker. Also, the lack of quotation marks at the beginning of new paragraphs when a character was making a speech or talking over a few paragraphs, was a bit annoying and also confusing.Finally, I was quite disappointed with the ending; for me it was too predictable and a bit contrived.But on the whole I enjoyed this book, and would definitely recommend it.more
This is Coelho's best novel since the [Alchemist]. I found that I wanted to stay with the story even when its profundity wasn't there. The story is narrated by a person who may be a mirror of the author, I don't know. His wife has left hime for mysterious reasons, much of which deals with the peculiarites of love and relationships. A Kazakh immigrant provdies an alternate spiritual path which attracts a number of young people, and has entwined relationship with the narrator's wife. Much of the story is laid in Paris and provides some look into an aspect of the homeless world.more
A long obsessive quest to reunite with the beloved.more
Pretentious and pseudo-philosophical/intellectual.more
According to the writer Jorge Luis Borges, the idea of the Zahir comes from Islamic tradition and is thought to have arisen at some point in the eighteenth century. Zahir, in arabic, means visible, present, incapable of going unnoticed. It is someone or something which, once we have come into contact with them or it, gradually occupies our every thought, until we can think of nothing else. This can be considered either a state of holiness or of madness.Faubourg Saint-PeresEncyclopedia of the Fantastic (1953)This book, was another journey with Coelho into his world of the spirit, and this time the real essence of love. What it means to love someone, and yourself... And again, the main character appears to be him, with the same background and his life experiences, although I'm not sure that this particular thing ever happened to him. The narrator/protagonist in the story is never named. The book also addresses happiness and wealth. He talks about what it's like to be a celebrity, more importantly, what it's like to be a human being while being a celebrity.more
The Zahir is the obsession of a person. The narrator’s obsession is a lost love, a woman. The narrator is part Coelho. The overall story is not great, but as typical with Coelho the beauty of the book is in individual passages, especially those dealing with letting your past go so you can have a future.more
A strangely written post-modern story of love, the meaning of life, spirituality, and the battle against conformity.The narrator seems to speak directly to the reader for most of the book. He tells the story of his life, and his marriage. His journey to find love, his place in life, and how he lost his wife. His wife becomes his obsession, his Zahir. As he works through the process of trying to figure out how he lost her, where she is, if he wants her back, and how to go about it, he realizes that the Zahir is a symptom of the problem. The narrator explains his philosophy on love and life, and what he has learned, the mistakes he has made, and the spiritual growth he has achieved. At first it was not enjoyable because of the odd method of telling the story, then the narrator seemed unlikeable. But around page 25, it because interesting, and I was hooked. I don't know if I would read more of this type of fiction, but it was a change for me and it sucked me in. The narrator also seemed to be exploring lots of uncomfortable truths about life and living. If the reader has not already done some thinking along these lines, s/he might become uncomfortable and unable to enjoy the flow of his journey. There was a bit of magical realism mixed in with a character who has visions. The story takes place mostly in Paris, and then ends on the Asian steppes of Kazakhstan. All in all very interesting.more
An excellent story about one man's search for his life's love and finding himself along the way.more
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