The narrator of The Zahir is a bestselling novelist who lives in Paris and enjoys all the privileges money and celebrity bring. His wife of ten years, Esther, is a war correspondent who has disappeared along with a friend, Mikhail, who may or may not be her lover.Was Esther kidnapped, murdered, or did she simply escape a marriage that left her unfulfilled? The narrator doesn't have any answers, but he has plenty of questions of his own. Then one day Mikhail finds the narrator and promises to reunite him with his wife. In his attempt to recapture a lost love, the narrator discovers something unexpected about himself.
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October 13, 2009
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Excerpt from The Zahir by Paulo Coelho
Her name is Esther; she is a war correspondent who has just returned from Iraq because of the imminent invasion of that country; she is thirty years old, married, without children. He is an unidentified male, between twenty-three and twenty-five years old, with dark, Mongolian features. The two were last seen in a cafe on the Rue du Faubourg St-Honore.
The police were told that they had met before, although no one knew how often: Esther had always said that the man -- who concealed his true identity behind the name Mikhail -- was someone very important, although she had never explained whether he was important for her career as a journalist or for her as a woman.
The police began a formal investigation. Various theories were put forward -- kidnapping, blackmail, a kidnapping that had ended in murder -- none of which were beyond the bounds of possibility given that, in her search for information, her work brought her into frequent contact with people who had links with terrorist cells. They discovered that, in the weeks prior to her disappearance, regular sums of money had been withdrawn from her bank account: those in charge of the investigation felt that these could have been payments made for information. She had taken no change of clothes with her, but, oddly enough, her passport was nowhere to be found.
He is a stranger, very young, with no police record, with no clue as to his identity.
She is Esther, thirty years old, the winner of two international prizes for journalism, and married.
I immediately come under suspicion and am detained because I refuse to say where I was on the day she disappeared. However, a prison officer has just opened the door of my cell, saying that I'm a free man.