Paulo Coelho at press conference
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. — 1 John 4:8, NIV
Paulo Coelho died at birth, strangled by his umbilical cord. His mother prayed and he survived. The hospital was called Saint Joseph. His mother made a promise to Saint Joseph. Paulo Coelho upholds that promise and one way he does so is to hold a party each year on St Joseph’s Day with his friends to celebrate.
Last year it was at Melk Abbey. This year it is at the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul. And that ıs why this afternoon he held this press conference. Not, as some may think, to promote his new book Elif as he did not need to.
Elif (O Aleph in Portugal and Brazil) was released ın Turkey last week. It has already reached Number One in Turkey without any help or promotion by Paulo Coelho. His books do not need it, they sell by word of mouth.
To date almost 150 million books sold. If we assume at least three people read each book, then we are approaching half a billion readers.
Why do people read the books? Ask the readers. All Paulo Coelho does is write them.
Why does he write? We all have stories to tell. That is how we retain our culture. Some of us follow our dreams.
Joseph, a simple carpenter, followed his dreams. He worked with with love.
That is the question we should all ask ourselves: Do we work with love, do we put love into our work? That is the the question God will ask us, not did we sin, but did we put love into our work?
Jesus told stories. The Koran tells us to tell stories and reflect on those stories. The Hindu classics are stories.
People are rising up, they are demanding change, they will no longer accept the old order.
Elif, released in Turkey last week, is the story of a journey. A journey that starts in Moscow on the Trans-Siberian railway. It is a spiritual journey. It is the story of a Turkish woman called Elif.
Elif or Aleph is a point in space and time.
It is rare for Paulo Coelho to hold a press conference, which explains the massed TV cameras. I was told even CNN was there. On the platform with Paulo Coelho was his publisher in Turkey and the Brazilian Ambassador to Turkey.
This evening Paulo Coelho will be hosting a party for his friends at the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul.
On leaving Pera Palace I wandered to Istiklal Avenue where I found copies of Elif on display in a bookshop. I had hoped to see the historic tram which Orhan Pamuk writes of in one of his books but I was out of luck. The street was blocked by a massive anti-nuclear demonstration.
Pera Palace Hotel has been recently renovated. It was built for passengers on the Orient Express. Many famous guests including Ernest Hemmingway, Greta Garbo, Agatha Christie, who wrote Murder on the Orient Express whilst staying at the Pera Palace Hotel. In the entrance foyer is an old sedan chair. Chairs such as this were used to carry guests from the station, across the river and up the hill to the Pera Palace Hotel. The electric lift inside the hotel was the second only installed in Europe. The first was the Eiffel Tower. Pera Palace is listed in 1000 Places to See Before You Die, with a copy opened at the relevant pages in a display cabinet in the hotel foyer.
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