Paulo Coelho's (The Alchemist, The Winner Stands Alone) new novel takes readers on an adventurous journey that spans all 9,288 kilometers of the Trans-Siberian railroad from Moscow to Vladivostok and a parallel mystical journey that transports its narrator through space and time. In his most personal novel to date, Coelho presents himself as a pilgrim seeking to regain his spiritual fire, much like Santiago, the beloved main character of his runaway bestseller The Alchemist.
Paulo Coelho's books have sold more than 130 million copies and have been translated into 72 languages. Besides The Alchemist, his international bestsellers include Eleven Minutes, The Pilgrimage, and many other books whose characters grapple with seemingly simple spiritual themes: light and darkness, good and evil, temptation and redemption. But never before has Coelho chosen to place himself as a character so profoundly in the midst of that struggle-until now.
Coelho becomes inspired by the thought of how bamboo exists only as a tiny green shoot for five years while its root system grows underground, invisible to the naked eye. Then, after five years of apparent inactivity, it shoots up and grows to a height of twenty-five meters. Taking what sounds like advice he's written in his previous books, Coelho begins to "trust and follow the signs and live [his] Personal Legend," an act that takes him from a simple book signing in London to a whirlwind tour of six countries in five weeks.
Filled with the euphoria of once again being in motion, he commits to a journey through Russia to meet with his readers and to realize his lifelong dream of traveling the entire length of the Trans-Siberian railroad. He arrives in Moscow to begin the journey and meets more than what he's expecting in a young woman and violin virtuoso named Hilal, who shows up at his hotel and announces that she's there to accompany him for the duration of the trip.
Sometimes throughout the story, Coelho's tendency to describe spiritual concepts in simple terms borders on cliché. "A life without cause is a life without effect," he repeats, along with other pithy sayings such as "Life is the train, not the station." These sayings take on greater depth, however, as this story's narrator travels back in time and returns to the present with experiences that give them new meaning.
The tension in Aleph builds as the train nears its destination at Vladivostok, the final stop on the Trans-Siberian railroad. The narrator Coelho and Hilal have become entangled in a spiritual web that must be broken if they are to continue on in their separate lives. Through their delicate negotiations, readers will come to understand the interconnectedness of people throughout time and find inspiration in this story of love and forgiveness.