Paulo Coelho is one of my literary gaps — I’d heard of him, meant to read him, yet never got around to him until now. Is Manuscript Found in Accra the best introduction to him? I don’t know, but this slim novel — if “novel” is the right word — gives me plenty to think about.
The basic premise behind Accra is that a manuscript dating back to roughly 1307 AD was discovered by English archaeologist Sir Walter Wilkinson in 1974 in Egypt, though it came from an area outside of the Egyptian territory and “therefore, no restrictions [were] on its removal from the country.” Our unnamed narrator acquired the text in 2011 from Sir Walter’s son, and what we read is the narrator’s transcription. The text itself has its own narrator and he says it is “the fourteenth of July, 1099.”
Judging by the quotes I’ve seen from some of Coelho’s other work, philosophical and mindful ways of living are his wheelhouse, and perhaps Manuscript in Accra is a condensed, more direct version of those ideas. I would have to read his other books to say so with any certainty, though perhaps it would be best to ask the man himself. He appears to be quite active on Twitter, which I like to see when it’s clear that the writer enjoys it. That the United Nations has named him a “Messenger of Peace” feels very apt. Maybe this book isn’t for everyone, but I liked it well enough to want to properly devour a full-on Coelho novel in the near future.