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  • Manuscript Found in Accra
  • Written by Paulo Coelho
    Translated by Margaret Jull Costa
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  • Written by Paulo Coelho
    Translated by Margaret Jull Costa
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Written by Paulo CoelhoAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Paulo Coelho
Translated by Margaret Jull CostaAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Margaret Jull Costa



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On Sale: April 02, 2013
Pages: 208 | ISBN: 978-0-385-34984-0
Published by : Vintage Knopf

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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

The latest novel from the #1 internationally best-selling author of The Alchemist.

There is nothing wrong with anxiety.
Although we cannot control God’s time, it is part of the human condition to want to receive the thing we are waiting for as quickly as possible.
Or to drive away whatever is causing our fear. . . .
Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it—just as we have learned to live with storms.
 
*  *  *
 
July 14, 1099. Jerusalem awaits the invasion of the crusaders who have surrounded the city’s gates. There, inside the ancient city’s walls, men and women of every age and every faith have gathered to hear the wise words of a mysterious man known only as the Copt. He has summoned the townspeople to address their fears with truth: 

“Tomorrow, harmony will become discord. Joy will be replaced by grief. Peace will give way to war. . . . None of us can know what tomorrow will hold, because each day has its good and its bad moments. So, when you ask your questions, forget about the troops outside and the fear inside. Our task is not to leave a record of what happened on this date for those who will inherit the Earth; history will take care of that. Therefore, we will speak about our daily lives, about the difficulties we have had to face.” 

The people begin with questions about defeat, struggle, and the nature of their enemies; they contemplate the will to change and the virtues of loyalty and solitude; and they ultimately turn to questions of beauty, love, wisdom, sex, elegance, and what the future holds. “What is success?” poses the Copt. “It is being able to go to bed each night with your soul at peace.” 
 
*  *  *
 
Now, these many centuries later, the wise man’s answers are a record of the human values that have endured throughout time. And, in Paulo Coelho’s hands, The Manuscript Found in Accra reveals that who we are, what we fear, and what we hope for the future come from the knowledge and belief that can be found within us, and not from the adversity that surrounds us.  
 




From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

Excerpted from the Hardcover edition

Alas, that is not true. I am only twenty-one, my parents gave me love and an education, and I married a woman I love and who loves me in return. However, tomorrow, life will undertake to separate us, and we must each set off in search of our own path, our own destiny or our own way of facing death.

As far as our family is concerned, today is the fourteenth of July, 1099. For the family of Yakob, the childhood friend with whom I used to play in this city of Jerusalem, it is the year 4859—he always takes great pride in telling me that Judaism is a far older religion than mine. For the worthy Ibn al-Athir, who spent his life trying to record a history that is now coming to a conclusion, the year 492 is about to end. We do not agree about dates or about the best way to worship God, but in every other respect we live together in peace.

A week ago, our commanders held a meeting. The French soldiers are infinitely superior and far better equipped than ours. We were given a choice: to abandon the city or fight to the death, because we will certainly be defeated. Most of us decided to stay.

The Muslims are, at this moment, gathered at the Al-Aqsa mosque, while the Jews choose to assemble their soldiers in Mihrab Dawud, and the Christians, who live in various different quarters, are charged with defending the southern part of the city.

Outside, we can already see the siege towers built from the enemy’s dismantled ships. Judging from the enemy’s movements, we assume that they will attack tomorrow morning, spilling our blood in the name of the Pope, the “liberation” of the city, and the “divine will.”

This evening, in the same square where, a millennium ago, the Roman governor Pontius Pilate handed Jesus over to the mob to be crucified, a group of men and women of all ages went to see the Greek, whom we all know as the Copt.

The Copt is a strange man. As an adolescent, he decided to leave his native city of Athens to go in search of money and adventure. He ended up knocking on the doors of our city, close to starvation. When he was well received, he gradually abandoned the idea of continuing his journey and resolved to stay.

He managed to find work in a shoemaker’s shop, and—just like Ibn al-Athir—he started recording every- thing he saw and heard for posterity. He did not seek to join any particular religion, and no one tried to persuade him otherwise. As far as he is concerned, we are not in the years 1099 or 4859, much less at the end of 492. The Copt believes only in the present moment and what he calls Moira—the unknown god, the Divine Energy, responsible for a single law, which, if ever broken, will bring about the end of the world.

Alongside the Copt were the patriarchs of the three religions that had settled in Jerusalem. No government official was present during this conversation; they were too preoccupied with making the final preparations for a resistance that we believe will prove utterly pointless.

“Many centuries ago, a man was judged and condemned in this square,” the Greek said. “On the road to the right, while he was walking toward his death, he passed a group of women. When he saw them weeping, he said: ‘Weep not for me, weep for Jerusalem.’ He prophesied what is happening now. ‘From tomorrow, harmony will become discord. Joy will be replaced by grief. Peace will give way to a war that will last into an unimaginably distant future.’ ”

No one said anything, because none of us knew exactly why we were there. Would we have to listen to yet another sermon about these invaders calling themselves “crusaders”?

For a moment, the Copt appeared to savor the general confusion. And then, after a long silence, he explained:

“They can destroy the city, but they cannot destroy everything the city has taught us, which is why it is vital that this knowledge does not suffer the same fate as our walls, houses, and streets. But what is knowledge?”

When no one replied, he went on:

“It isn’t the absolute truth about life and death, but the thing that helps us to live and confront the challenges of day-to-day life. It isn’t what we learn from books, which serves only to fuel futile arguments about what happened or will happen; it is the knowledge that lives in the hearts of men and women of good will.”

The Copt said:

“I am a learned man, and yet, despite having spent all these years restoring antiquities, classifying objects, recording dates, and discussing politics, I still don’t know quite what to say to you. But I will ask the Divine Energy to purify my heart. You will ask me questions, and I will answer them. That is what the teachers of Ancient Greece did; their disciples would ask them questions about problems they had not yet considered, and the teachers would answer them.”

“And what shall we do with your answers?” someone asked.

“Some will write down what I say. Others will remember my words. The important thing is that tonight you will set off for the four corners of the world, telling others what you have heard. That way, the soul of Jerusalem will be preserved. And one day, we will be able to rebuild Jerusalem, not just as a city, but as a center of knowledge and a place where peace will once again reign.”

“We all know what awaits us tomorrow,” said another man. “Wouldn’t it be better to discuss how to negotiate for peace or prepare ourselves for battle?”

The Copt looked at the other religious men beside him and then immediately turned back to the crowd.

“None of us can know what tomorrow will hold, because each day has its good and its bad moments. So, when you ask your questions, forget about the troops outside and the fear inside. Our task is not to leave a record of what happened on this date for those who will inherit the Earth; history will take care of that. Therefore, we will speak about our daily lives, about the difficulties we have had to face. That is all the future will be interested in, because I do not believe very much will change in the next thousand years.”
Paulo Coelho

About Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho - Manuscript Found in Accra

Photo © David Brabyn

One of the most influential writers of our time, Paulo Coelho is the author of many international best sellers, including The Alchemist, Aleph, Eleven Minutes, and Manuscript Found in Accra. Translated into 80 languages, his books have sold more than 165 million copies in more than 170 countries. 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. 
 
www.paulocoelhoblog.com 
 
Connect with the author: 
www.facebook.com/paulocoelho
Twitter: @paulocoelho

 
Uno de los escritores más influyentes de nuestro tiempo, Paulo Coelho es el autor de múltiples bestsellers internacionales, incluyendo El AlquimistaAlephOnce Minutos y El Peregrino. Traducido a 74 idiomas, sus libros han vendido más de 140 millones de copias en más de 170 países. Es miembro de la Academia Brasileña de Letras y, en 2007, fue nombrado Mensajero de la Paz de las Naciones Unidas.
  

Praise

Praise

“Coelho’s writing is beautifully poetic but his message is what counts.” —Daily Express
 
“His writing is like a path of energy that inadvertently leads readers to themselves, toward their mysterious and faraway souls.”  —Le Figaro
 
“His books have had a life enhancing impact on millions of people “ —The Times (London)
 
“An exceptional writer.”  —USA Today

“An intriguing and playful premise.” —The Boston Globe

“Full of worthy musings and quotable quotes on a variety of subjects—from solitude and love to beauty and miracles. . . . Like all Coelho’s other works, the earnestness, simplicity and clarity of [Manuscript Found in Accra’s] prose start touching your soul and transforming your thoughts.” —The International Herald Tribune

“Coelho . . .  shows himself again to be a cerebral and subtle writer.” —The New York Journal of Books
 
“Spiritualists and wanderlusts will eagerly devour . . .  [Coelho’s] search for all things meaningful.” —The Washington Post 

 “Coelho masterfully presents his points wrapped in the … familiar guise of an ancient story.” —Portland Book Review

“A timeless and powerful exploration of personal growth, everyday wisdom and joy.” —Bookscan (London)
Reader's Guide|About the Book|Author Biography|Discussion Questions|Suggestions

About the Book

The questions, discussion topics, and suggested reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s conversation about the age-old wisdom and innate qualities that help guide us along the journey of life.

About the Guide

In 1974, an English archaeologist discovered a manuscript in Accra, the present capital of Ghana; carbon dating showed that it had originated in 1307.  Written in Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin, the document describes a meeting in the year 1099 between the people of Jerusalem and a sage known as the Copt. It is the year in which the city, where Jews, Christians, and Muslims live together in harmony, is preparing for an attack by the armies of the Crusades.
 
In this captivating novel, best-selling author Paulo Coelho brings to life the anguish of a city on the brink of annihilation. As the fearful citizens seek advice and reassurance, the Copt speaks of the principles that shape everyday lives and reveals why they will survive the destruction of Jerusalem and endure for generations to come.  The novel unfolds as a sequence of parables exploring the meaning and value of love, faith, sex, friendship, beauty, bravery, loyalty, success, and community, and uncovering the sources of human fears and anxieties. Manuscript Found in Accra is a novel that is thought-provoking and inspiring.

About the Author

One of the most influential writers of our time, Paulo Coelho is the author of many international best sellers, including The Alchemist, Aleph, Eleven Minutes, and The Pilgrimage. Translated into 74 languages, his books have sold more than 140 million copies in more than 170 countries. He is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, and in 2007, he was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

Discussion Guides

1. “In the cycle of nature there is no such thing as victory or defeat; there is only movement” [p. 16]. What do the cycles of the natural world teach us about the balance of difficult and rewarding moments in our lives? In what ways can personal experiences of setbacks, loss, and even the death of a loved one serve as an impetus to moving on to a new chapter of life?

2. “Defeat ends when we launch into another battle. Failure has no end; it is a lifetime choice” [p. 23].  Why are people often reluctant to accept or admit to defeat? How does it affect our ability and willingness to deal with life’s challenges?  Is it possible to avoid risks and still live a full and meaningful life?

3. “Solitude is not the absence of company, but the moment when our soul is free to speak to us and help us decide what to do with our life” [p. 29].  Do the demands of everyday life (work, family, and other responsibilities) prevent people from examining insecurities or do these obligations, real and perceived, serve as an excuse for avoiding self-knowledge?

4. “In a desperate attempt to give meaning to life, many turn to religion, because a struggle in the name of a faith is always a justification for some grand action that could transform the world… And they become devout followers, then evangelists, and finally, fanatics” [p. 40]. Do the Crusades of the time exemplify this distortion of religion? What examples are there today of religion degenerating into fanaticism?

5. “We are afraid of change because we think that, after so much effort and sacrifice, we know our present world” [p. 47].  How does the appeal—and comfort—of the familiar affect the choices we make? How can we reconcile our belief in the value of perseverance with the imperative to embrace change?

6. “Beauty exists not in sameness but in difference” [p. 61]. Using your own examples, discuss how this definition of beauty applies to works of art, natural phenomena, and people commonly thought to be great beauties. The Copt also speaks about elegance [pp. 111–13]. What do the conversations about these seemingly superficial topics reveal about the different, perhaps surprising, elements that contribute to our spiritual life?

7. Why is the desire to give our lives meaning so strong?  What role does the fear of death—the ultimate confrontation with the “Unwanted Visitor”—play?

8. What insights does the Copt offer into the nature of love between individuals? Does his assertion that “love is an act of faith, not an exchange” [p. 76] reflect your own experience? Does thinking of love this way make it easier to face disappointment or rejection?

9. “I will look at everything and everyone as if for the first time” [p. 84]. Have you ever put aside habitual thoughts and emotions and viewed familiar surroundings through fresh eyes? What did you discover?

10. The Copt tells his listeners, “See sex as a gift, a ritual of transformation… Fearlessly open the secret box of your fantasies” [pp. 95–96]. How does this point of view compare with teachings about sex in traditional religions and spiritual practices?  How does it both augment and extend the Copt’s central message?

11. Do the discussions of work [pp. 117–21] and success [pp. 125–29] offer a new way of looking at your own situation? To what extent does talking about luck and comparing oneself with others influence people’s attitudes about their jobs? How would you answer the Copt’s questions about the rewards of work [p. 127]?

12. In what ways does the section on miracles [pp. 133–37] evoke the tone and style of prayer? What does it illustrate about the connection between beliefs and behavior? About accepting the mysteries as well as the realities of life?

13. Anxiety lays a claim on all of us at one time or another. What kinds of situations trigger your anxiety? Have you developed techniques to cope with it? Has faith played a role in helping you control anxiety? What would you add to the Copt’s suggestions for keeping anxiety at bay [pp. 145–46]?

14. What is the role of community in creating the strengths necessary for survival?  Do the Copt’s explorations of friendship [p. 105], loyalty [pp. 159–62], and confronting enemies [pp. 175–80] shed light on the social and political divisions in the world today?

15. “The most destructive of weapons is not the spear or the siege cannon… The most terrible of weapons is the word, which can ruin a life without leaving a trace of blood, and whose wounds never heal” [p. 170]. Discuss how this applies both to individuals and to groups and nations.

16. “Our great goal in life is to love. The rest is silence” [p. 76]. How is this message woven into the teachings in the book?

17. There are vivid analogies and parables throughout Manuscript Found in Accra and the book concludes with allegoric stories from a rabbi, an imam, and a Christian priest. Why are analogies and parables so effective in making complex ideas accessible? The book also contains echoes of the Bible as well as familiar contemporary sayings. Why do you think Coelho draws on these sources in telling a tale set centuries ago?

18. The Alchemist, Aleph, and other books by Coelho have been widely translated and have become international best sellers. What makes his books appealing to readers of different cultures and religions? What does he capture about the universality of the human experience? How would you describe his view of the role of fate in our journeys through life?  If you have read his other books, which one is your favorite and why? What influence has he had on your ideas and beliefs?

Suggested Readings

Karen Armstrong, Jerusalem; Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones; Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha; Deepak Chopra, God: A Story of Revelation; Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet; Lawrence Kushner, Kabbalah: A Love Story; C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity; Krista Tippett, Speaking of Faith; Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

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