Paulo Coelho

Winner of the 2007 Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award

Paulo Coelho received an “Honorary Award” from the city of Odense in 2007, and became the first recipient of an award that, in 2010, would be named the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award.

About Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho received an “Honorary Award” from the city of Odense in 2007 and became the first recipient of an award that would be named the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award in 2010. He is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters and a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

Paulo Coelho de Souza (born in 1947) is a Brazilian lyricist and novelist and the recipient of numerous international awards. He is one of the bestselling and most influential authors in the world, having sold more than 65 million copies in 59 languages.

Coelho has written and published 30 books, including collections of essays. Some of his best-known novels are By the River Piedra I Sat Down and WeptThe Fifth MountainVeronika Decides to DieThe Devil and Miss PrymWarrior of the Light: A ManualThe Zahir, and Eleven Minutes.

As a child, Coelho dreamed of becoming a writer, but his parents were shocked by the idea. His road to a career as a full-time writer has carried him to a mental hospital and law school, then on a pilgrimage across three continents. On his journey, he has worked as an actor, stage director, journalist, and rock lyricist, and he was tortured by a Brazilian paramilitary group in 1974.

A life-changing epiphany occurred when Coelho met a stranger in an Amsterdam café, who convinced him to make the traditional Roman Catholic pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. Coelho did so in 1986. The broad outlines of his experience can be read in his best-known work, The Alchemist. Coelho decided to follow his dream and become a writer.

Describing his intention as a writer, Coelho has said, “I believe in the concept of ‘anima mundi’ (soul of the world), where each person, through total dedication to what he does, comes into contact with the inspiration of the universe.”

It is a red thread that runs through much of his work, which uses symbols, dreams, and archetypes to convey simple but universal truths. His use of symbolic language is inspired by his involvement in the Roman Catholic church.

His mystical parables and spiritual musings tackle fundamental questions about the human condition and the dichotomies that are created by humankind’s dual nature: good and evil, joy and despair, light and dark. A typical Coelho plot narrates a quest in which an inexperienced hero discovers the meaning of life.

Often, they are deceptively simple stories of self-discovery and coming of age imbued with philosophical and mystical overtones. Coelho writes from the heart, straightforwardly attempting to touch the lives of his readers.