| Lisa Von Ahn |
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Author Paulo Coelho (pic R) has achieved resounding success by writing novels with spiritual themes, but the cover of his latest book could easily land it on the romance fiction shelves.
In “Adultery”, the Brazilian-born author of the bestselling “The Alchemist”, a mystical novel that has won praise from the likes of talk show host Oprah Winfrey and Russian President Vladimir Putin, puts a unique perspective on an often-discussed subject.
The new book follows a Swiss journalist who begins to question her life after she interviews an author who favours passion over happiness. She embarks on an extra-marital affair with a boyfriend from her youth, an experience that brings excitement, anger and despair, and that eventually leads to spiritual growth.
Are you the writer in the story who favours passion over happiness?
Coelho: Yes, absolutely. Happiness is this place that, once you arrive there, you have nothing else to do. You get bored. Passion is this up and down; it’s like a rollercoaster, you know, and much more interesting to me.
Your protagonist has a life almost anyone would envy, but it is not enough. Do you think that human beings are just incapable of handling peace and prosperity for the long term?
Coelho: It depends how deep you dig into your soul. They can handle peace and prosperity. The problem is that they are always insecure, if they can keep this forever. So the question is not that they cannot handle it, it is how to keep this forever.
And, as you know, it is impossible, so people start to destroy the excitement of the present moment due to the fact that they are trying to live behind walls to protect their prosperity and happiness.
The affair seemed to trigger something in the protagonist that causes her to change.
Coelho: Only three things can change people. It is love, it is suffering, and it is joy.
Do you feel under any pressure to please the public, or are you simply writing what you want to say?
Coelho: If I felt any pressure to please the public, I’d never write a book called “Adultery”. There are many readers who were shocked because they’re used to a different type of book.
So the answer is no, not at all. Otherwise, I would write about things that they are familiar with. And this would be the end of my career because I would stop having pleasure in doing what I do.