The Zahir [Paulo Coelho]


Penulis/Author: Paulo Coelho (2005)
Penerbit/Publisher: Harper Collins
Cetakan/Edition: Hardback 2005
Kategori/Category: General fiction
ISBN: 0-00-720416-7

A famous writer (whose name was never once mentioned) found out one day that his journalist wife, Esther, has left him. He thought that she left him for her young Kazakhstan interpreter. He spent days and nights to fight for his broken pride and then finally able to move on with his life.

After two years, he was on a book-signing session for his new bestselling book “Time to Sew Time to Rend” that he actually wrote to pour his hidden feeling for his missing wife, a person who became his obsession, his Zahir. On the very last of the queue was the young man, Mikhail, the interpreter. Mikhail came to tell him that his wife is fine and she possibly is reading his book right now. After that occasion, his obssesion to find his Zahir became stronger. He followed Mikhail and started to experience things that had helped him to understand life and (perhaps) love from a different angle.

The thing is, I believe when one is trying to understand love, means he/she knows nothing about love at all. Why make everything so complicated while they are easy, and why want to make things easier if they are complicated. The beauty of love is that it is complicated, though we could feel it and express it.

Just like Coelho’s other books, “The Zahir” also is full of labirynth of thoughts. I honestly am not impressed by this book at all. Coelho used plenty of his personal character and experience as Paulo Coelho to create the character of the anonymous writer as well as the flow of the book. As always, ‘Road to Santiago’ means a lot to him and is part of his inspiration and writing spirit. I am not fond of character Mikhail. Mikhail has the ability to hear “voices” and he was in a mission to bring back “the energy of love” to the world. If this book has a love and world peace mission, it was written in a strange way that it may cause misuderstanding as well as despise for a certain religion.

“The Alchemist” is great because it was consistently from begining to the end being a wisdom tale, a tale of pursuing one’s dream and travel the world of life. I read “Eleven minutes” and thought it was another tale with a realistic touch. It could happen to any girl in the world thus I quite understand what he was trying to express in there. But I am not sure if I understand “The Zahir” at all. Maybe because I wasn’t in my best shape while reading the book. Maybe I read it at a wrong time where I could have waited another week or two while reading other books with less indoctrination and question marks. Maybe it was the translation that ruined the essence of the story. Or we could just be realistic and say: maybe this isn’t a good read. Quoting his writing on page 248:

“If a book isn’t self-explanatory, then the book is not worth reading.”

Seorang penulis terkenal (yang namanya tidak sekalipun disebutkan dalam cerita ini) akhirnya menyadari kalau istrinya yang juga seorang wartawan, Esther, telah pergi meninggalkan dia. Ia berasumsi kalau istrinya pergi karena lebih memilih untuk bersama dengan penerjemah muda yang Esther kenal ketika meliput di Kazakhstan. Siang malam si penulis berusaha melawan ego-nya sebagai seorang laki-laki yang porak-poranda dan akhirnya ia berhasil menata kembali kehidupannya.Dua tahun kemudian si penulis sedang berada dalam acara tanda-tangan buku bestseller barunya “Time to Sew Time to Rend” yang ia tuliskan untuk meluahkan semua rasa yang terpendam untuk sang istri, obsesi yang telah menjadi Zahir dalam kehidupannya. Pada akhir antrian berdiri seorang pemuda, Mikhail, si penerjemah. Mikhail datang hanya untuk mengabarkan kalau istrinya baik-baik saja dan mungkin pula sedang membaca buku barunya itu. Seketika, obsesinya terhadap si Zahir menjadi lebih intensif. Ia mulai mengikuti Mikhail dan mulai pula mendapat pemahaman baru atas arti hidup dan tentang cinta dari sudut pandang yang berbeda.

Menurutku, ketika seseorang mulai berusaha memahami cinta, orang tersebut justru benar-benar tidak mengerti cinta. Kenapa kita harus membuat sulit hal-hal yang mudah? Dan kenapa harus membuat mudah hal-hal yang memang sulit? Keindahan cinta justru terletak pada kesulitan kita untuk memahaminya, meskipun ia bisa kita rasakan dan bisa kita ungkapkan.

Seperti buku-buku Coelho yang lain, “The Zahir” juga penuh dengan labirin pemikiran dan gagasan yang, terus terang, tidak sekalipun membuatku terkesan. Coelho banyak memakai karakter dan pengalamannya pribadi sebagai seorang Paulo Coelho untuk membetuk karakter si penulis tanpa nama dan juga dalam membuat alur cerita ini. Seperti biasa, “Jalan menuju Santiago” berperan sangat penting dan menjadi inspirasi serta semangat menulis Coelho. Aku kurang menyukai karakter Mikhail yang digambarkan sebagai seseorang yang memiliki kemampuan untuk mendengar “suara-suara” dan sedang dalam misi untuk menyebarkan kembali “energi kasih” ke dalam dunia. Kalau memang buku ini memiliki misi tak tertulis untuk menyebarkan misi kasih dan perdamaian dunia, buku ini mengungkapkannya dengan cara yang aneh dan berpotensi untuk menyebabkan kesalahpahaman atas agama tertentu.

Buku “The Alchemist” bagus karena ia konsisten sejak awal hingga akhir untuk berkisah tentang dongeng bijak dalam mengejar impian dan menjalani dunia kehidupan. Aku pun membaca “Eleven minutes” dan berpikir bahwa ini juga sebuah dongeng realistis karena kemungkinan untuk terjadi pada kehidupan gadis-gadis manapun di dunia ini cukup besar. Tetapi aku tidak yakin kalau aku mengerti apa-apa tentang “The Zahir”. Mungkin karena aku sedang tidak dalam kondisi baik saat membacanya. Mungkin karena aku membacanya di saat yang kurang tepat padahal aku bisa saja menunggu seminggu dua minggu lagi sambil membaca buku-buku lain yang lebih ringan dan tidak penuh tanda tanya. Mungkin karena terjemahannya kurang baik sehingga makna buku ini menjadi berantakan. Atau bisa juga kita bersikap realistis dan bilang: mungkin buku ini memang tidak bagus. Mengutip tulisan pada halaman 248:

“Jika sebuah buku tidak bisa menjelaskan isinya sendiri, mungkin buku tersebut memang tidak layak dibaca.”


8 thoughts on “The Zahir [Paulo Coelho]

  1. Doesn’t matter as long as I have it, hahaha…

    It’s breaking my hear if someone asks have I read the book? and I say “I haven’t and I don’t have it. Will you lend me?”.

    It is more convincing and peaceful to say “I read and didn’t like it. But you are welcome to borrow it” :p

  2. antubuku says:

    hi rey, ths book might not be impressive to u but the way u write bout it is very impressive…
    well said gal ;-)

  3. Gabriela Tomicki says:

    I enjoyed the book tremendously. After I read The Zahir, I went and bought all Coelho’s books and read them . It must be difficult for a cliterary critic to say bad things about Mr. Coelho, because the amount of books published just say it all: he’s wonderful! His simple and direct, at times quite intimate style, appeals to everyone. He’s sold millions of books! That must mean something…Everything took a new direction in my life and I changed a lot of things, thanks to Mr. Coelho. His message is a simple but powerful one. If you’re happy with yourself and your life in general, maybe you have nothing to learn, and therefore being urged to go out there and do something about it means nothing to you. But to most people who need a change in perspective, this book(like the others) does prove that , shoud you be aware of the fact that there is actually something you can do to be happy, you may set aside whatever fears you have and go for it!
    Thank you, Paulo! The consequential value of your books cannot be ignored.

  4. hello gabriela, glad you enjoyed the book, i know some friends who liked it to the last bits especially those who are married. they have a wonderful life and love enlightment from the story.

    it actually took me a while to realise why i didn’t like it. i was disappointed with the love story itself. my concept of true love will be a total loyalty whether or not the couple would be together again, at least i want people who are in love to hang in there and have some faith to their spouse. while the writer went through his ‘journey’, the wife was somewhere sharing something intimate with someone else! i just can’t accept that. they got reunited in the end, i am happy they did, but the love has already had a stain in it. it’s just very difficult for me to accept that situation in real life and in book :)

    my first introduction to mr. coelho’s writing was through “the alchemist” which i enjoyed tremendously. it has everything from fairy tale, words of wisdom, positive spirit, mystery and adventures: things that i like from books. since then i try to look for more of his writings and so far i still like “the alchemist” the most =) i still believe that everyone should read “the alchemist” and experience the magical journey themselves. i truly hope everyone would find the gems in that book.

    i never doubt mr. coelho as an ispirational person and writer, as i’ve seen some people’s lives enhanced through his writings. while i like and appreciate some of his philoshopical thoughts, there are some that simply don’t get along with me.

    and as far as the amount of books sold, i think mr. coelho deserves it. i even had to get “the zahir” shipped from london to downunder because i desperately wanted it and it wasn’t released here. another instance, some of my friends despise the multi-millions selling author sidney sheldon because they think his novels are cheesy, too girlish and not worth reading let alone spending money on them but i think some of them are superb.

    bytheway how do you like “by the river piedra i sat down and wept”? i always want to buy this but some recommendation would always be appreciated :)

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