Paulo Coelho's enchanting novel has inspired millions of delighted readers around the world. This story, dazzling in its simplicity and wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who ventures from his homeland in Spain to North Africa in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a beautiful, young gypsy woman, a man who calls himself a king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is or if Santiago can surmount the obstacles along the way through the desert. But what starts out as a boyish adventure to discover exotic places and worldly wealth turns into a quest for the treasures only found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, Santiago's story is an eternal testament to following our dreams and listening to our hearts.
The Alchemist is nowadays one of the most read books in the world. However, the extraordinary story of this novel begins in a very different way.
After the publication of his first book, The Pilgrimage, in 1988 Paulo offered The Alchemist to a small Brazilian publishing house. The first edition sold only 900 copies and the publishing house decided not to reprint.
Despite this setback, Paulo did not give up the pursuit of his dream. He found a bigger publishing house, Rocco, that was interested in his work. In 1990, he published Brida. The publication of this book, which received plenty of press attention, took The Alchemist and The Pilgrimage to the top of the bestseller lists.
In 1993, HarperCollins published 50,000 copies of the book, which was the largest ever initial print run of a Brazilian book in the United States. At the launch, the executive director of HarperCollins, John Loudon, said: "It was like getting up at dawn and seeing the sun rise while the rest of the world still slept. Wait until everybody else wakes up and sees this too." Ten years later, he wrote to Paulo that The Alchemist had become one of the most important books in the company's recent history.
The success of The Alchemist in the United States and Australia marked the beginning of his international career. The Sydney Morning Herald, from Australia, claimed: "I‛s the book of the year (1993). An enchanting work of infinite philosophical beauty."