Paulo Coelho's highly versatile and appealing columns have been syndicated for 10 years now. They attract large reading audiences worldwide, regardless of their cultural and religious backgrounds and have become a reference point for a public who look forward to these pieces as a pleasant rendezvous. Readers of 184 media in 64 different countries have already had the chance to enjoy them.

As well as the newspaper columns, he occasionally publishes articles on current affairs.




Paulo Coelho's highly versatile and appealing columns have been syndicated for 10 years now. They attract large reading audiences worldwide, regardless of their cultural and religious backgrounds and have become a reference point for a public who look forward to these pieces as a pleasant rendezvous. Readers of 184 media in 64 different countries have already had the chance to enjoy them.

As well as the newspaper columns, he occasionally publishes articles on current affairs.





Viva, La Nación, Para Ti


Kurier, Blickpunkte, Salzburger Nachrichten

Oh! (La Prensa, Los Tiempos,Correo del Sur)

Dnevni Avaz Newspaper

Jornal Tribuna do Norte, Jornal O Liberal, Jornal Amazonas em Tempo, Jornal O Girassol, Jornal ABC Domingo, Jornal da Manhã, Jornal de Santa Catarina, Jornal Diário do Sul, Jornal Gazeta do Sul, Jornal O Estado do Paraná, Jornal O Sul, Jornal Aplatéia, Jornal Correio da Bahia, Jornal Correio da Paraíba, Jornal Diário de Pernambuco, Jornal Diário do Nordeste, Jornal Correio de Sergipe, Jornal S/A Gazeta - Notícia Agora, Jornal S/A Gazeta – A Gazeta, Jornal A Tribuna de Santos, Jornal de Valinhos, Jornal Diário da Região, Jornal Extra, Jornal O Globo, Jornal O Liberal, Jornal O Vale Paraibano, Diário de Sorocaba, Jornal de Limeira, Jornal Noroeste News, Jornal Tribuna Impressa, Jornal de Itatiba – Diário, Folha de Alphaville, Diário do Grande ABC (Santo André, São Bernardo, São Caetano, Diadema, Mauá, Ribeirão Pires, Rio Grande da Serra) Diário de São Paulo, Jornal Correio Paulista, Correio Popular, Gazeta de Piracicaba, Gazeta de Ribeirão, Jornal Notícia da Manhã, O Jornal, A Gazeta Regional, Jornal de Brasília, Diário da Manhã, Jornal O Estado de Mato Grosso  do Sul, Jornal A Gazeta, Rádio Juruá FM, G1.

Dnvenik, 24 Hours, Story Magazine

La Semaine, Le Soleil

Publimetro, La Segunda, La Tercera

South China Weekend
Innerlight Magazine

El Espectador, El Tiempo

La República

Elle Magazine, Jutarnji List, Slobodna Dalmacija

Metro Daily, Pravo

Saxo, Oestrogen's website

El Nacional

El Universo

La Prensa

Akhbar Al Adab

Femme’s website, Anna, Delfi’s website

Anna, Positiivarit's Newsletter, Suomen Kuvalehtia's website

Changer Tout, Psychologies Magazine

24 Hours

Happinez Magazine, TV Hören + Sehen, Bild, Welt am Sonntag

Ta Nea

Local Times

La Prensa

Metro Daily


Hiduz Magazine, Surya Newspaper, Gramedia’s Website, The Bali Times

The Asian Age, Mail Today, Central Chronicle Newspaper, Marathi Daily Lokasatta


Oggi, Corriere della Sera

The Book Traveller

Joong Ang Il Bo, Teen's Note, The Feature, Cho Sun Il Bo, The Kukmin Ilbo

Al Nahar Newspaper



Boek Magazine, Happinez Magazine, Ode Magazine

La Prensa

Ny Tid, Bergens Tidende, VG Magazine

Y Magazine

La Prensa

Última Hora

El Comercio

Pani, Wrozka, Zwierciadlo

Viva, Lux, Jornal de Noticias, Revista Livros, Reader’s Digest

Primera Hora

Evenimentul Zilei, Pro TV Magazine, Romania Libera, Romania Ziarul de Duminica, Elle Komsomolskaya, Egoist Generation, Izvestia Newspaper

Pravda, Sobesednik, Liza Magazine, Good housekeeping

Politika, Vecernje Novosti

Pravda, Domino Forum


Odyssey Magazine, Beeld, Die Burger (Afrikaans)

El Mundo, El Semanal (Grupo Correo), L’Avui (Catalan), El Punt (Catalan)

Topphalsa Magazine, M-magazine

Sie+Er Magazine (Sonntags Blick), Schweizer Illustrierte, Truce Magazine

China Times Daily, Yaputo

Aksam Daily, AKtuel Magazine, Kacak Yayin, Vatan

Express, Moloda Galychyna, Postup

Al Bayan Newspaper, Virgin Magazine

Think, The Guardian's website, Arrajol Magazine, Inspired Times Magazine

Jornal Flórida Review

El Nacional


My unforgettable character

When I was a child I used to read a magazine that my parents subscribed to, which had a section called "My unforgettable character" for common people to talk about other common people who had influenced their lives. Of course, at that age (nine or ten), I also had already created my influential personality. On the other hand, I was certain that over the years this model would change, so I decided not to write to the magazine and submit my opinion (today I wonder how in those days they would have received the collaboration of someone my age).

Time has passed by. I have met many interesting people who have helped me at difficult moments and inspired me and shown me paths that had to be traveled. However, the great myths of childhood have always proved more powerful; they go through periods of devaluation, contestation and oblivion, but they remain, appearing on necessary occasions with their values, examples and attitudes.


My unforgettable character was called José, my grandfather's youngest brother. He never married, worked as an engineer for many years, and when he retired he decided to live in Araruama, a city near Rio de Janeiro. That is where the whole family went to spend the summer holidays with the children. Uncle José was a bachelor, so he probably did not have much patience with that invasion, but that was the only moment when he could share a little of his loneliness with his grandnephews and nieces. He was also an inventor, and to accommodate us he decided to build a house where the rooms only appeared during the summer! He pressed a button and the walls descended from the roof, the beds and cupboards emerged from the outer walls, and there we had four bedrooms to lodge the newly-arrived! When Carnival was over, the walls were raised, the furniture went back inside the outer walls and the house was once more a big empty shed where he kept material for his workshop.

He built cars. Not just that, but he made a special vehicle to take the family to Araruama Lake – a mixture of jeep and train on tires. We went swimming, lived close to nature, spent the whole day playing, and I always wondered: "But why does he live here all alone? He has money, he could live in Rio!" He told stories of his trips to the United States, where he had worked in coal mines and ventured to places never visited before. The family used to say: "It's all lies". He was always dressed as a mechanic, and all the relatives commented: "He should get himself some decent clothes". As soon as television came to Brazil, he bought a set and put it on the sidewalk so that the whole street could see the programs.


He taught me to love things done with the heart. He showed me the importance of doing what you wanted to do, regardless of what the others said. He sheltered me when as a rebellious adolescent I had problems with my parents. One day he told me: "I invented the hydramatic (the automatic gear shift in a car). I went to Detroit, got in touch with General Motors; they offered me US$ 10,000 on the spot or one dollar for every car sold with this new system. I took the ten thousand and lived the most fantastic years of my life."

The family used to say: "Uncle José is always inventing things, don't believe him." And although I felt deep admiration for his adventures, for his style of life, for his generosity, I did not believe that story. I told journalist Fernando Morais about it only because Uncle José was my unforgettable character.


Fernando decided to do some checking and here is what he came up with (the text has been edited, because it is part of a long article):

"The first automatic gear shift was invented by the Sturtevant brothers from Boston in 1904. The system did not work satisfactorily because of a problem with weight. But it was the invention of Brazilians Fernando Iehly de Lemos and José Braz Araripe, sold to GM in 1932, that contributed to the development of the hydramatic system launched by GM in 1939."


With millions of hydramatic cars being turned out every year, the family who never believed in anything and thought that Uncle José dressed badly could have inherited an incalculable fortune. How good it is to know that he enjoyed some happy years spending his ten thousand dollars!


The letter I can't answer

The letter that I can't answer is lying right here on my desk. It reached me through the efforts of a Dutch couple who sent me an e-mail in June 2006. I lent it no importance, and did not answer. At the end of that same month they wrote again, and again I paid no attention. And then came the warning phrased in more serious words:

"This is the last time we are asking you this favor. It is up to you to write to Justin or not. Or to put it better, it is up to your conscience. I got to know your books because he recommended them. Yours truly, Jacobus" (I shall omit his surname).

I read the text of the e-mail carefully: it says that Justin Fuller, prisoner #999266 at the Polunsky Unit, Livingston, Texas, will be executed exactly on my birthday, the 24th August. His lawyer, Don Bailey, has already been to all the appeal courts, and it looks like the cause is lost. They are not asking me to denounce the fact publicly, or to take some position on the case: they just want me to send this reader some comforting words.

I type Justin's name in a search tool. I see his photo, then I discover that there is a page with the names of all those who are (or have been) in death row in Texas. I see his criminal record at

I write the letter. The week following my birthday, Jacobus writes to me once more: Justin received it, and answered me before he was executed. The letter is waiting for me in a hotel I usually stay at in a certain town, and that I used as the sender's address.

Finally, at the end of October 2006, I stop at the hotel. I know that a letter from a man condemned to death awaits me. I know that he has already been executed. I collect the letter, enter a bar, and read the words from someone whom I will never be able to answer. Whom I will never be able to ask permission to publish extracts, but since we are talking about a true aberration of justice – death as an instrument of the State – I shall copy some parts:

"Dear Mr. Coelho:

"Death row is the arena where the policies of Power, Retribution and Violence are applied to a man using materials such as concrete and steel, until this man turns into steel and his heart becomes as hard as concrete. However, though steel can be hard, it can still be flexible, and though the heart can be transformed into concrete, it still beats. Beyond the concrete and the steel stands the man, his love of life, and the great principles that rule human beings.

"Your letter surprised me. And it is very strange that my transcendence (Justin always uses this term instead of "execution") is to take place just on your birthday. Of course, I hope it does not take place, but we both know that life is always accompanied by death. In the USA they execute prisoners in the name of what they call "justice" without taking into account whether they can be well represented in court, the circumstances of their birth and their family environment.

"While I wait out the last appeal to the Supreme Court, I feel full of life and strong, and my spirit is completely free.

"If I transcend, I will finally be able to float in the wind and enjoy freedom. I have realized that although my body is imprisoned, my life has changed and my soul can still love, because all freedom is mental. Many people in this world, although they are on the outside of prison, are far more in bondage than I am.

"Only when these people come to understand that freedom is a state of the mind will they be able to really enjoy it."

The letter that I couldn't answer is much longer. It describes the relationship that we built through my books, and it wishes me and my family all the best. And now it sits on my desk.

The letter that I couldn't answer, from a man condemned to death, arrested when he was 19 years old and executed when he was 27, contains not a word of lamentation: it speaks of freedom and life.


Synesthesia. Changing sound into color

"Let's stop for a bit. I can't stand this orange color!"

Where is the orange color? We are at the Trastevere in Rome, and all that I can see are the bars, the people in the streets in this early frozen spring, all this to the sound of church bells ringing. It's almost night-time on a cloudy day, so we can't even blame the sun for the optical illusion.

I am strolling with an actress I have known for some time, but we have never had the chance to have a proper conversation. I stop as she requested, but only out of politeness, since this well-balanced professional woman must be crazier than I thought.

We go into a restaurant to have dinner. We order risotto with truffles, and a good wine. We chat about life, and once again she comes out with an absurd comment:

"This food is rectangular!"

She noticed the alarmed expression on my face. Rectangular food?

"You must think I'm crazy; I'm not. At a certain moment in my life I thought that I was color-blind, that I got colors all mixed up. I went to the doctor and discovered that I have a common neurological disorder."

When I got back home I immediately started to research on the computer and was surprised to find out something that I had never heard of before in my life: synesthesia. A condition in which the stimulus of a certain sense provokes perception in another. Those who suffer from this type of disorder confuse sounds with smells, sights with taste, colors with touch (not necessarily in that logical order).

Some scientific studies claim that the vision of auras in human beings was born there; I disagree with these studies, for I believe that all of us really have an astral body that can be seen when we alter perception. But what fascinated me most in my research was to find out that what we perceive through our five senses is not an absolute truth. Synesthetic people have a notion of the world completely different from ours, though this does not prevent them from leading a relatively normal life. My actress friend works on Italian TV every day, and says that she eventually became used to it.

Delving a bit deeper into the matter, I discovered a study in the British journal Cognitive Neuropsychology. A team of researchers from University College in London, headed by Dr. Jamie Ward, went even further: some synesthetics can perceive colors in emotion-laden words such as "love" or "son". The vast majority of them end up associating someone's name with a certain tonality. Ward describes the case of a girl identified as G.W., who simply by hearing certain names had her field of vision entirely covered by a certain color associated with that word.

I learn from an art magazine that the halos that we see around the heads of saints may have been created by some synesthetic painter in days of old, then repeated by others without anyone wondering about the reason for that circle of light. The 1965 winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics once said in an interview: "when I write equations on the blackboard, I note the numbers and the letters in different colors". One article explains that Feynman belongs to a group of persons for whom the number two can be yellow, the word car may taste like strawberry jam, and a certain musical note may evoke the image of a circle.

Ward says that synesthesia is by no means a disease: "quite unlike psychiatric disorders, synesthetic people have none of their basic functions compromised, but they do have a positive symptom which most other human beings lack". The big problem lies in school-age children, who cannot understand why they feel things differently from others.

To my great surprise, some studies point out that one on every 300 people is synesthetic (although most say that the ratio is one in every 2,000).

The next day I called my friend and asked what sensation she always associated with me. "Gentle" was her answer.

Well, synesthesia can't always be logical!