Why I Hate Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’

There are so many reasons why I hate this book. I’ve never read fiction that reads so much like a poorly-executed self-help book before. Coelho shoves the main theme down your throat on every page: if you want something enough, and believe in it, regardless of circumstance, that thing will happen. Not only is this untrue, it’s a potentially dangerous belief. It implies that everything that happens to us happens to us because we want it, consciously or subconsciously. That is unequivocally not true. So much of our lives are out of our control. Mere belief in something does not make it come true. An apparent attempt at inspirational timelessness comes across as preachy, condescending and pretentious. 

Coelho’s treatment of women is also incredibly poor. First of all, where are they? The ratio of men to women in this book is hugely one-sided. For a book that is meant to be relatable for everyone, with messages for anyone to understand and take onboard, there is a severe lack of women. What about Fatima? Fatima plays a relatively minor role in the story. For the most part, she is a thing to be won, and treasured. She understands that, as a woman of the desert, it is her role and duty to wait for the boy as he discovers himself. Never mind the fact that he ultimately leaves anyway. 

What did I like about this book? It’s short.


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