Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho
Publisher: Knopf | 2013 (first published 2010) | 208 pages
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July 14, 1099. Jerusalem awaits the invasion of the crusaders who have surrounded the city’s gates. There, inside the ancient city’s walls, men and women of every age and every faith have gathered to hear the wise words of a mysterious man known only as the Copt. He has summoned the townspeople to address their fears with truth:
“Tomorrow, harmony will become discord. Joy will be replaced by grief. Peace will give way to war…. None of us can know what tomorrow will hold, because each day has its good and its bad moments. So, when you ask your questions, forget about the troops outside and the fear inside. Our task is not to leave a record of what happened on this date for those who will inherit the Earth; history will take care of that. Therefore, we will speak about our daily lives, about the difficulties we have had to face.”
The people begin with questions about defeat, struggle, and the nature of their enemies; they contemplate the will to change and the virtues of loyalty and solitude; and they ultimately turn to questions of beauty, love, wisdom, sex, elegance, and what the future holds. “What is success?” poses the Copt. “It is being able to go to bed each night with your soul at peace.”
Now, these many centuries later, the wise man’s answers are a record of the human values that have endured throughout time. And, in Paulo Coelho’s hands, The Manuscript Found in Accra reveals that who we are, what we fear, and what we hope for the future come from the knowledge and belief that can be found within us, and not from the adversity that surrounds us.
I don’t know why it took me so long to finish this book. It is a rather thin copy with a mere 190 pages. My copy was the uncorrected proof version. I began reading this in early April but only managed to finish reading it on June 13.
There is no storyline in it. Most of what you will read have been transcribed from the contents of manuscripts believed to have originated from the city of Accra, outside Egypt territory.
The story begins on July 14, 1099 in Jerusalem. Its people need to face the inevitable as they were waiting for the invasion by crusaders. Two choices were given to them – abandon the city or fight to the death.
While waiting for the worst to come, they took the time to sit down and engage in a sort of Q and A session with the Copt, described as a strange man who had left his native city of Athens to go in search of money and adventure when he was an adolescent. Believing him to be a learned man, the villagers gathered around him and asked him questions while listening to what he had to say.
The Copt spoke on defeat, solitude, self-esteem, change, beauty, love, sex, elegance, luck, miracles, anxiety, the future, loyalty and enemies. I can’t believe they even asked questions on certain topics in such a dire situation!
Anyway, it is just a book filled with advice that one could refer to, reflect or use in troubled times. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I think those who like to read self-help books might like this book. The words of advice in it certainly apply to everyone no matter young or old but there have been suggestions to gift this book to young adults and young graduates looking for a clear direction in life!
***Thanks to Random House for sending me a review copy of this book!