by Coelho, Paulo; Becker, Eric M. B. (TRN)

A Brazilian man and a Dutch woman embark on an extraordinary journey of self-discovery as they travel by bus from Amsterdam to Kathmandu against a backdrop of the protests and sexual-liberation experiments of the 1960s.

Paulo Coelho’s life remains the primary source of inspiration for his books. He has flirted with death, escaped madness, dallied with drugs, withstood torture, experimented with magic and alchemy, studied philosophy and religion, read voraciously, lost and recovered his faith, and experienced the pain and pleasure of love. In searching for his own place in the world, he has discovered answers for the challenges that everyone faces. He believes that within ourselves we have the necessary strength to find our own destiny.

Paulo Coelho’s books have been translated into 80 languages and have sold more than 225 million copies in more than 170 countries. His 1988 novel, The Alchemist, has sold more than 65 million copies and has been cited as an inspiration by people as diverse as Malala Yousafzai and Pharrell Williams.

He is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters and has received the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur. In 2007, he was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

It is September 1970. A twentysomething aspiring Brazilian writer named Paulo finds himself in one of the two acknowledged hippie cultural centers of the world, Amsterdam's Dam Square. He has already survived a harrowing stint in a Bolivian prison, led astray by his lover, a woman 11 years older but not necessarily wiser. Karla, a beautiful young Dutch woman, also finds herself in Dam Square, searching for a man willing and worthy enough to accompany her on a Magic Bus trip to Nepal. With nothing more than their mutual quest for enlightenment to bind them, Karla and Paulo begin their trek across Europe, each dubious border crossing bringing them closer to their goal and, potentially, to each other. Less an homage to the sex-drugs-and-rock 'n' roll" mantra of the time and more a celebration of the spiritual longing that inspired a generation to abandon norms and pursue an unconventional path to the truth, this metafiction by the revered Coelho (The Spy?, 2016) lyrically fuses authenticity and illusion, art and fact. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The global appeal of this megaselling storyteller remains extraordinary, and his latest autobiographically inspired novel will bring in the fans. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Prolific Brazilian author Coelho is back with another novel, loosely based on his experiences growing up (a problematic phrase) in the psychedelic 1960s and '70s. The novel reads rather like a series of impressions clustered around a trip (no pun intended) through Europe and toward Kathmandu. While the narrative is written in the third person, it doesn't take a great leap of imagination to identify some aspects of a character named "Paulo" (also referred to as "the Brazilian") with the author. This character has linked up with Karla in Amsterdam in September 1970. They meet, appropriately enough, in Dam Square, perhaps the hippie center of the cosmos. Karla is Dutch and a Protestant, and she yearns to see the world from a wider perspective. She's at peace with solitude, and her dream involves "traveling to Nepal...to find a cave and remain there alone until her teeth fell out, [and] her hair became white." Meeting Paulo complicates both of their lives, however, for she would like him to be her travel companion on a bus trip from Amsterdam to Kathmandu, through Austria, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and beyond. There are 20 people on the bus, including a Frenchman and his daughter (occasionally mistaken for man and wife) as well as Rayan, a charismatic Irishman, and his stunning girlfriend, Mirthe. They all tend to behave as we imagine hippies are supposed to behave—they take drugs, skinny dip in a river, and show an interest in ecstatic experiences. When they arrive for an extended stay in Istanbul, Karla and Paulo's relationship becomes even more complicated, as she feels drawn to him in a way he can't reciprocate. A nostalgic immersion in the mind-blowing 1960s. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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