Monday, September 19, 2005

Booknote: La Quinta Montaña

Title: La Quinta Montaña
Author: Paulo Coelho
Publication Information: New York: Harper Books, 1996
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 236
Note: This is the Spanish edition. It can be also found in English translation under the title The Fifth Mountain.

My mother introduced me to the works of Paulo Coelho when we were at a bookstore. She had mentioned the author before, and when there, I bought her a copy of another Coehlo novel. I don't recall the title; I think it was A Orilla del Rio Piedra Me Senté y Lloré (By the River Piedra I Sat and Wept). At any rate, the author's name stuck with me and later on I went and read EL Alquimista (The Alchemist), for which I later made a note. When I found a second hand copy of La Quinta Montaña, I just went ahead and bought it. My mother reads in Spanish; I have never seen her reading in English unless she has to. I personally prefer to read certain works in Spanish. Coelho writes in Portuguese, so I figure a Spanish translation is likely closer to his work. Call it a bias of mine.

This novel is set in biblical times. It basically tells the story of the prophet Elijah. Most of the plot takes place in the city of Akbar after Elijah flees there from Israel after Jezabel, a Phoenician princess who marries King Ahab, comes to power and begins to kill the prophets. The novel covers the three-year span Elijah spends there before returning to Israel and performing the famous miracle of the burnt offering (see 1 Kings 18). During his time in Akbar, Elijah struggles with God and himself as he learns what his true destiny is and faces difficult choices. Readers of The Alchemist will likely enjoy this tale as well.

I don't think a reader needs to be versed in the Bible to enjoy the novel. However, those readers who are closer to the Bible by faith or belief will likely see Elijah in a new or different light. The fable Coelho presents is moving at times; it is enlightening as well. In terms of pacing, the book is a very easy and light read; Coelho's works are actually known to be light on the prose. I found it inspirational and thought-provoking at times. Reader's of Coelho's other works will likely see elements from his other works here as well. I recommend the book, but I think The Alchemist is his best so far.

Additionally, readers interested in learning more about Paulo Coelho himself may want to look at the book Paulo Coehlo: Confesiones del Peregrino by Juan Arias. It is an interview that Arias did with Coelho. Very interesting and pretty light to read.

No comments: