Paul Coehlo has managed to capture the emotions of a man in search of his missing wife, in his novel, The Zahir: A Novel of Love and Obssession, but, in the end, realizes that he was searching for his own identity, his own Self.
“Zahir, in Arabic, means visible, present, incapable of going unnoticed, someone or something – which once we come in contact with gradually occupies our every thought until we can think of nothing else, it also defines a state of holiness or madness.”
The narrator is obsessed with finding his wife, and wonders if she ran off on her own, was she kidnapped, has she been murdered, etc. He is also obsessed with his own independence and freedom, and will do almost anything to be free, including having affairs, and going out of his way to make sure that what he considers his independence is not hindered in any way.
Within the pages we read that he, himself, is being considered as a suspect in his wife’s disappearance. This fosters his urge to find her, and thus begins his exploration of love, life and loss.
He meets the man, named Mikhail, who his wife disappeared with. Being a man of privilege and celebrity, and a man used to getting and having his way, the narrator wants Mikhail to lead him to his wife, immediately. This does not happen, and in a series of meetings, and talks, we see the narrator begin to realize the substance of life, the emotional and spiritual substance of who we are, of who and of what he is comprised of.
The narrator, obsessively, yet slowly, finds his way towards his wife, and in an almost parallel way, finds his own sense of independence. He is both a man who journeys through madness and obsessive behavior towards love and spirituality.
The Zahir is a compelling novel, and one that deals with the brilliance of Coelho’s prose, and his own ever evolving journey for the answer and meaning of life. It leaves one pondering issues, and reviewing their own thoughts in certain areas. Bravo to Paulo Coelho for always searching and questioning.
August 13, 2012 – 25 Av, 5772
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