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Book Reviews

19 January 2020

I read Paulo Coelho's most famous novel over a decade ago in 2007, and, even though I follow him on social media, I haven't delved back into his work until recently when I read Aleph. This semi-autobiographical tale of his journey into past lives is deep into some religious bullshit, but also contains a strong strain of a grain of hidden truth. In meeting Hilal, who he helped torture and kill as a member of the inquisition in a previous life, he is able to make some sense of feelings at the edge of his conciousness. We have all experienced deja vu, or met someone for the first time that it seems we've known our whole lives. Coelho brings this feeling to the next level by making it reality in his fiction. And so the reader is left feeling as if they have penetrated into a deeper understanding of the universe. The religious will no doubt believe that in fact they have, whereas the more enlightened can still enjoy that religious experience through the Aleph without actually buying into any of it.

I came away from the reading with a desire to travel further in the corpus of his work, much as the central characters of his novel travelled across Russia on the railroad to Vladivostok.

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