"Once upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria…" Like a fairy-tale for adults, this is the beginning of the novel that shook the world.
Eleven Minutes is the story of a young girl whose first innocent brushes with love leave her heartbroken. At a tender age, she becomes convinced that she will never find true love. A chance takes her to Geneva, where she dreams of finding fame and fortune.

Maria’s despairing view of love is put to the test when she meets a handsome young painter. In this odyssey of self-discovery, Maria has to choose between pursuing a path of darkness or risking everything to find her own ”inner light” and the possibility of sacred sex, sex in the context of love.

ELEVEN MINUTES


"Once upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria…" Like a fairy-tale for adults, this is the beginning of the novel that shook the world.
Eleven Minutes is the story of a young girl whose first innocent brushes with love leave her heartbroken. At a tender age, she becomes convinced that she will never find true love. A chance takes her to Geneva, where she dreams of finding fame and fortune.

Maria’s despairing view of love is put to the test when she meets a handsome young painter. In this odyssey of self-discovery, Maria has to choose between pursuing a path of darkness or risking everything to find her own ”inner light” and the possibility of sacred sex, sex in the context of love.

Editions

Rights sold in 47 languages:

Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (Complex), Chinese (Simplified), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Georgian, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malayalam, Marathi, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Sinhala, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

Reviews

"Eleven minutes is a book that can change people's lives.
A fantastic and simple story, completely free from unnecessary twists and turns."
-- STEFAN SAUK, ACTOR, SWEDEN, JUNE 2005

 

"The book casts a curiously sweet spell."
-- ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, US, APRIL 2004

 

"Eleven minutes is an amazing book. A contemporary fairy-tale."
-- FINANSISTA, POLAND, MAY 1ST, 2004

 

"Sensual… for-adults-only fairy tale."
-- THE WASHINGTON POST, US, MARCH 28TH, 2004

 

"In this gripping and daring new novel, Coelho sensitively explores the sacred nature
of sex and love and invites us to confront our own prejudices and demons
and embrace our own 'inner light'."
-- WATKINS REVIEW, UK, AUTUMN / WINTER 2003

 

"Sacred sex. A paradoxical, utopian impossibility or a life- sustaining, attainable goal?
While Coelho comes down firmly in the end for the reality of a holy carnality,
the path he takes to that affirmation acknowledges completely the snares
and labyrinths awaiting any explorer of the fusion of body and soul."
-- THE WASHINGTON POST, US, APRIL 18TH, 2004

 

"I haven't read such a tremendously interesting novel in a very long time; a novel about the complicated, fantastic and horrifying thing it is to be a human being. Indeed a sincere novel."
-- RESUMÉ, SWEDEN, OCTOBER 14TH, 2004

 

"A rare combination of craftsmanship, imagination and inspiration…
With a master's touch, Coelho pulls the reader, slowly but irresistibly,
into ever-darker worlds… Coelho has set up a world so real that
the reader really doesn't know until the last page
which way the tale will end."
-- FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, US, APRIL 26TH, 2004

 

"With his usual perceptive, elegiac prose, Coelho unravels a journey of awakening
through Maria who herself travels from her native Brazil to Switzerland to find herself
and returns a changed woman. Coelho’s fresh and sensitive approach to the
subject matter is both refreshing and insightful without seemingly sparking or
avoiding controversy…. Once again, a simple philosophy
but an uplifting read. ***** [5 stars]"
-- WHAT’S ON IN LONDON, UK, SEPTEMBER 3RD, 2003

 

"Once again Coelho manages to touch our souls. This book is a tribute to the listening and
loving humans and about making body and mind come to gather in a higher unity."
-- SONDAG, DENMARK, AUGUST 9TH, 2004

 

"A truthful, frank and provocative piece of writing that is not culture or territory specific
but talks of a universal experience."
-- THE TRIBUNE, INDIA, SEPTEMBER 21ST, 2003

 

"The straight forward and yet intimate writing style surpasses the level of provocation
and literally urges human liberation."
-- DA VINCI, JAPAN APRIL 2004

 

"Eleven Minutes shows in a very simple way how life can turn out and what love is really about. You feel mysteriously purified after reading Eleven Minutes."
-- LÄNSTIDNINGEN I SÖDERTÄLJE, SWEDEN, SEPTEMBER 16TH, 2004

 

"A heart-resounding story dealing with the profound theme of 'what is love' described
through a struggling woman figure."
-- SANKEI SHINBUN, JAPAN, MARCH 14TH, 2004

 

"It is one of the best books the author has written."
-- JOURNAL DU DIMANCHE, FRANCE, JUNE 15TH, 2003

 

"Lately I have enjoyed very much Coelho's Eleven Minutes. I read it on a Sunday, and
I was so deeply moved that I bought some copies to present for Christmas. I would
recommend it to everyone who has missed something this year. To all of those
who have not had the courage to make important decisions and who may be
afraid of the world ahead of us after May 2004. This book is a sample of
human genius and strength. It shows us that
sinking very low is only a part of our path."
-- PRAVDA, SLOVAKIA, DECEMBER 16TH, 2003

 

"Eleven Minutes is a must in your private library."
-- THE SPANISH HERALD, AUSTRALIA, NOVEMBER 25TH, 2003

 

"A tremendous novel indeed!"
-- ÖSTERSUNDSPOSTEN, OCTOBER 21ST, 2004

 

"Eleven Minutes deals more with feelings than with acts, and strays from the marginal
docudrama cliché. It is a hard novel, with moments that capture the reader’s
attention with perfect expertise. Deeply personal and tender."
-- EL PERIÓDICO, SPAIN, SEPTEMBER 26TH, 2003

 

"A story of true love in which the 'soul writer' seizes sexuality from right in front."
-- CREA, JAPAN, MAY 2004

 

"Those who read this book with spiritual openness, will be rewarded with much more
wisdom and love than any book can probably bring."
-- WWW.EKULTURA.HU,HUNGARY, MAY 14TH, 2004

 

"An important and brave book about sexuality and love, the crucial and unsolved
problem of contemporary culture, everyone’s problem."
-- ZWIERCIADLO, POLAND, MAY 2004

 

"Love stays a very interesting subject, especially when Coelho interferes."
-- 8 WEEKLY MAGAZINE, NETHERLANDS, JANUARY, 2004

 

"Coelho always presents us with the ultimate test for what lies within us… Eleven Minutes is
written in a daring and masterly way. Rating *****."
-- MANLY DAILY, AUSTRALIA, NOVEMBER 7TH, 2003

 

"Coelho is a storyteller for adults."
-- SKÅNSKA DAGBLADET, SWEDEN, OCTOBER 24TH, 2004

 

"A gripping exploration of the potentially sacred nature of sex within the context of love,
this may well become Coelho's next international best-seller."
-- BOOKLIST, MAGAZINE OF THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, US, MARCH 1ST, 2004

 

"A fascinating, sensitive and gripping story... the enraptured reader moves in
fascinating synchronisation with Maria from one situation to another."
-- FINANCIAL EXPRESS, INDIA, NOVEMBER 16TH, 2003

 

"Compared to all his previous books Eleven Minutes is twice as big and twice as interesting.
[…] One enjoys reading this really fascinating book for much longer than eleven minutes."
-- IZVESTIA, RUSSIA, AUGUST 26TH, 2003

 

"Undici minuti is a fascinating look into the sacredness of sex, into the ability to discover oneself
and God through carnal ecstasy, humiliation and exploration into the darkest sides of desire."
-- IL MATTINO, ITALY, JUNE 2003

 

"A tale about love and destiny which can stretch our paths and lead us – despite our disbelief –
towards happiness. Coelho is full of beauty."
-- DZIEWCZYNA, POLAND, JULY 2004

 

" Coelho's way of defending his belief in the huge importance of love is inviolable and very suggestive. Love is the way to freedom."
-- SKÅNSKA DAGBLADET, SWEDEN, OCTOBER 24TH, 2004

 

"Coelho surprised his readers with this novel. All his previous books charmed the readers with
mysticism and fairy-tale style. Eleven minutes is different, although it starts as a fairy-tale.
A marvellous study of one of our life’s sphere – sexuality."
-- GAZETA LUBUSKA, POLAND, MAY 1ST, 2004

 

"- As always, Coelho has written a book that surprises the readers. After reading it,
I once more realized how lonely and withdrawn many people are."
"- I recommend men to read this book because one can find the secrets of women's lives in it."
-- READING’S COMMENTS IN WWW.YENISAYFA.COM, TURKEY, 2004

 

"In his latest novel, Coelho, who is admired and read in Lithuania and throughout the world,
turns back to the eternal truths of life. (…) The seemingly simple story is
shocking and disturbing: the protagonists are made to choose between
the personal fall, the wrong path and the noble, higher ideas and feelings."
-- VALSTIEČIŲ, LITHUANIA, FEBRUARY 24TH, 2004

 

"With his pure and simple wisdom, the author truly and masterfully succeeds in stirring up
the standing waters of human prejudice and in touching the sensitive places in our souls."
-- NOVINKZ.CY, CZECH REPUBLIC, FEBRUARY 18TH, 2004

 

"Down-to-earth dialogue and detail… one of Coelho’s strongest."
-- KIRKUS REVIEWS, US, FEBRUARY 2ND, 2004

 

"Coelho, one of the most read novelists of the world, has encouraged his readers to discover
the light within themselves, to go after their own treasury and he opened the gates to
the world of dreams in front of them in his books. In Eleven Minutes, he continues
to guide people's souls through reaching out some harsh realities of life:
sexuality and sexual exploration."
-- KITAP MAGAZINE, TURKEY, FEBRUARY 2004

 

"A sensitive and provocative story that searches the boundaries of sexual freedom...
It makes you think, in a very intelligent way."
-- LIBELLE, NETHERLANDS, JANUARY 2004

 

"Coelho writes his new moving story Eleven Minutes about sacred sex in a wonderfully simple language. A better gift for your beloved will be almost impossible to find."
-- FEMINA, DENMARK, JANUARY 2004

 

"Coelho, who was born in Brazil but has become a world citizen as a result of his wide range of readers, tells a touching story again."
-- RADIKAL NEWSPAPER, TURKEY, JANUARY 22ND, 2004

 

"No conventional chitchatting on love but pure soul refreshment!"
-- STORY, CZECH REPUBLIC, DECEMBER 15TH, 2003

 

"Coelho explores the nature of sex and love in this unputdownable novel that makes us
rethink our own natures and prejudices."
-- WATERSTONE'S, UK, DECEMBER 2003

 

"This book is like a beautiful written fairy-tale. But it is all true."
-- FLAIR (5-STAR RATING), NETHERLANDS, NOVEMBER 27TH, 2003

 

"A beautiful, moving and compelling novel with a philosophical
sub-layer for a broad audience."
-- NEDERLANDSE BIBLIOTHEEK DIENST, NETHERLANDS, NOVEMBER 20TH, 2003

 

"Keeping his narrative elegantly in control, Coelho leads us without prurience but instructively
into a world of work said – only half in jest – to be the oldest of all."
-- HERALD SUN MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA, NOVEMBER 15TH, 2003

 

"People's relationship with sex, without moralizing or judging anyone"
-- LA CRÓNICA, MEXICO, OCTOBER 24TH, 2003

 

"Coelho succeeds in establishing a level of intimacy that is compellingly persuasive
and lends the novel its appeal."
-- THE STATESMAN, INDIA, OCTOBER 12TH, 2003

 

"In his novels Coelho develops universal dramas, valid anywhere and for everybody.
This is the explanation of the huge enthusiasm Eleven Minutes is receiving worldwide."
-- TABU, ROMANIA, OCTOBER, 2003

 

"With Eleven Minutes, the Brazilian writer Coelho has come back
to the literary scene in full splendour."
-- NOVI LIST, CROATIA, SEPTEMBER 21ST, 2003

 

"Eleven minutes is never vulgar or mean, very expressive and gives you a very warm feeling."
-- EVITA, NETHERLANDS, MAY 2004

 

"A ›Pretty Woman‹ story – very poetical, a global dream. Provocative, but also naive.
And beautiful to read. Like so much by Coelho."
-- DELMENHORSTER KREISBLATT, GERMANY, SEPTEMBER 6TH, 2003

 

"In opposition to sex trivialized by modernity, Coelho commits himself to the sublime act
which leads to love as a pending revolution."
-- ABC, SPAIN, SEPTEMBER 17TH, 2003

 

"Coelho reaches even further. In a prose full of poetry and beautiful images,
this book will make his readers dream."
-- DARMSTÄDTER ECHO, GERMANY, SEPTEMBER 4TH, 2003

 

"Eleven Minutes tackles several subjects still considered taboos nowadays. Coelho expounds them with that sort of naturalness that distinguishes him as the open thinker depicted in his books."
-- LA RAZÓN, SPAIN, SEPTEMBER 5TH, 2003

 

"Coelho wouldn’t be the master of his field if Eleven Minutes was just his declared belief
in the power of Love. The emotional scope of his characters is much more varied."
-- WESTFÄLISCHER ANZEIGER, GERMANY, SEPTEMBER 2ND, 2003

 

"Coelho’s books shake up familiar belief systems and make readers wonder about
who they are, what they want and why they are here."
-- FREE TIME, RUSSIA, SEPTEMBER 2003

 

"As in The Alchemist, Coelho remains true to himself in Eleven Minutes –
as the master of the allegorical narration of a journey."
-- FOCUS, GERMANY, AUGUST 25TH, 2003

 

"Eleven Minutes offers the reader an unsurpassable reflection and reading experience."
-- BAC MAGAZINE, CHILE, AUGUST 2003

 

"But beyond the initiatory course of a girl who loses and then finds herself, it is all
the crowned direction of sexuality, the reconciliation of the body and the heart
which make this a strong and flowing tale, inspired on a true story."
-- LA PROVENCE, FRANCE, JUNE 29TH, 2003

 

"He deals with a topic that for many is still sensitive and problematic, although it is a part
of our lives: for the first time Coelho writes about sex. Not illusively but straightforwardly
- about prostitution, masturbation, orgasm, intercourse and sado-masochistic relations."
-- YEDIOTH AHRONOTH, ISRAEL, JUNE 25TH, 2003

 

"Another captivating work which touches our deepest feelings."
-- OS MEUS LIVROS, PORTUGAL, JUNE 2003

 

"... Coelho brings together once again the themes which are dear to him:
To dare to love, to live out one’s dreams, but also to accept one’s personal story."
-- NOTRE TEMPS, FRANCE, JUNE 2003

 

"The story alternates extracts from a private diary which give the novel
a tone which is in turn funny, moving and right."
-- PAGE, FRANCE, MAY - JUNE 2003

 

"Coelho has created a novel true to his style: simple writing, intuitive, available to all,
a paramount female role, the importance of signs, enigmas, symbols and initiation,
carried out this time with a double rhythm provided by a personal diary."
-- NICE MATINE, FRANCE, MAY 29TH, 2003

 

"So no pornographic Coelho. Maria's story falls into the greatly covered trend of mankind's internal
search, beyond time and space, which the Brazilian author has accustomed his readers to."
-- CORRIERE DELLA SERA, ITALY, APRIL 2003

 

"This is a book where the reader can find a deep reflection on the meaning,
the history and the nature of sexuality."
-- DIÁRIO DE NOTÍCIAS (MADEIRA), PORTUGAL, APRIL 2003

 

"Coelho's secret seems to lie here: in sharing who we are despite of what we do."
-- CORREIO DA MANHÃ, PORTUGAL, APRIL 2003

Extracts

The men she had met since she arrived in Geneva always did everything they could to appear confident, as if they were in perfect control of the world and of their own lives; Maria, however, could see in their eyes that they were afraid of their wife, the feeling of panic that they might not be able to get an erection, that they might not seem manly enough even to the ordinary prostitute whom they were paying for her services. If they went to a shop and didn’t like the shoes they had bought, they would be quite prepared to go back, receipt in hand, and demand a refund. And yet, even though they were paying for some female company, if they didn’t manage to get an erection, they would be too ashamed ever to go back to the same club again because they would assume that all the other women there would know.

 

‘I’m the one who should feel ashamed for being unable to arouse them, but, no, they always blame themselves.’

To avoid such embarrassments, Maria always tried to put men at their ease, and if someone seemed drunker or more fragile than usual, she would avoid full sex and concentrate instead on caresses and masturbation, which always seemed to please them immensely, absurd though this might seem, since they could perfectly well masturbate on their own.
She had to make sure that they didn’t feel ashamed. These men, so powerful and arrogant at work, constantly having to deal with employees, customers, suppliers, prejudices, secrets, posturings, hypocrisy, fear and oppression, ended their day in a nightclub and they didn’t mind spending three hundred and fifty Swiss francs to stop being themselves for a night.
‘For a night? Now come on, Maria, you’re exaggerating. It’s really only forty-five minutes, and if you allow time for taking off clothes, making some phoney gesture of affection, having a bit of banal conversation and getting dressed again, the amount of time spent actually having sex is about eleven minutes.’

 

Eleven minutes. The world revolved around something that only took eleven minutes.
And because of those eleven minutes in any one twenty-four-hour day (assuming that they all made love to their wives every day, which is patently absurd and a complete lie) they got married, supported a family, put up with screaming kids, thought up ridiculous excuses to justify getting home late, ogled dozens, if not hundreds of other women with whom they would like to go for a walk around Lake Geneva, bought expensive clothes for themselves and even more expensive clothes for their wives, paid prostitutes to try to give them what they were missing, and thus sustained a vast industry of cosmetics, diet foods, exercise, pornography and power, and yet when they got together with other men, contrary to popular belief, they never talked about women. They talked about jobs, money and sport.
Something was very wrong with civilization, and it wasn’t the destruction of the Amazon rainforest or the ozone layer, the death of the panda, cigarettes, carcinogenic foodstuffs or prison conditions, as the newspapers would have it.

It was precisely the thing she was working with: sex.

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