Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho – Book Review

Title: Manuscript Found in Accra

Author: Paulo Coelho

Genre/Themes: Fiction, Spirituality, Personal Growth, Faked History

Blurb from Goodreads

After lying undiscovered for over 700 years, a manuscript holding the answers to a city’s final questions is unearthed from a cave in Cairo.

Centuries before, on the eve of the invasion of Accra, the citizens gathered. A man stood before them and invited the people to share their fears that he might offer hope and comfort.

His extraordinary insights on courage, solitude, loyalty and loss were transcribed and passed on.

My Review

I had been looking for Coelho’s most famous work, The Alchemist, in my library but the only Coelho authored book they had at the time was Manuscript in Accra so I took a chance and borrowed it. I didn’t know what to expect when I started to read it. The book sets itself out as if it’s a factual historical account rather than a novel which absolutely irritated me to the high heavens! It felt as if Coelho was trying to con his readership and attempting to give his mode of thinking a false gravitas.

Coelho tells us that the novel is a transcript of the words of wisdom that “The Copt” gave to the citizens of Jerusalem the night before they were attacked. The Copt was said to be a learned man from Greece who did not follow any particular religion but was a believer in the unknown god referred to as “Divine Energy”.

The book’s chapters are not chapters as such, but are more like lectures given in answer to the spiritual questions of the people of Jerusalem to this Copt character.

What is true in love is also true in war. Losing a battle or losing everything we thought we possessed will bring us moments of sadness but when those moments pass we will discover the hidden strength that exists in each of us, a strength that will surprise us and increase our self respect.
We will look around and say to ourselves ‘I survived’. And we will be cheered by our words.
Only those who fail to recognise that inner strength will say ‘I lost’ and be sad.

And sure, for the first few pages it was somewhat okay. It was cloyingly sweet and saccharine, but mostly was just inoffensive platitudes.

However, this faux biblical speak quickly grew tiresome, and became downright preachy in its tone. And I started to get increasingly irritated by The Copt’s overly simplistic view of life.

And because Coelho tried to pass this off as a historically accurate text it meant that this Copt character was supposed to be interpreted in a weighty fashion. As in he was a holy man and therefore should be accorded greater respect than the ordinary everyday person.

And this I did not like.

To me this book was just a vessel for Coelho to impart his personal viewpoints which yes, he’s entitled to. But in choosing to use this narrative style, the historical document, it felt to me that he was being disingenuous to the reader as this book was structured to read as if it were the *gospel truth* (excuse the pun!).

But to even further breakdown what the message of this book truly was… well it’s all just an ingratiating mash-up of empty philosophies and Pinterest quotes; not only did it feel entirely unoriginal, it was also utterly removed from the actual struggles and suffering that comes with human existence. If you’re seeking spiritual guidance for how best to navigate this frequently callous world then this is not the book for you.

Overall, Manuscript in Accra felt too much like a preachy, and pretentious lecture, and is not a book I would ever recommend.

Other Works by Paulo Coelho I’ve Reviewed

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