Posts Tagged ‘The Winner Stands Alone’

The Winner Stands Alone – Paulo Coelho

Set on the backdrop of Cannes film festival, “The Winner Stands Alone ” is Paulo’s latest offering for you, which might take you by surprise both with a smile and a frown.For those who love Paulo’s exclusive style might end up being disappointed.But for others it is definitely a decent , quick read. Spanning 24 hours during the Cannes Film Festival, this scintillating novel is about a wealthy Russian businessman Igor Malev, who’s obsessed with his ex-wife, Ewa, now married to a fashion designer Hamid Hussain. Igor turns into a serial killer to get Ewa’s attention. No one suspects him as Igor targets a street vendor, an influential movie distributor, a distresses woman and a big-name actor in amazingly sophisticated manner. In order to draw Ewa’s attention, Igor sends her messages saying ”he has destroyed worlds for her” but fails to draw her attention until they meet at a gala supper. In the midst of all these Paulo gives a good overview of what has sadly become a universal truth – the celebrity, fame and the perceived glory of the ‘Superclass’. Coelho takes Cannes as an alibi to comment on the elite’s elite, the rich and the famous, their lives,agony and a very superficial lifestyle. In short a tale about an rich man , committing few murders to win his lost love along with a host of other characters, their lives, dreams and fantasies, all in the city of Cannes.
Am at a fix. . I actually don’t believe that I have just finished a Paulo Coelho novel. I will not say this novel doesn’t have anything good about it, but it certainly doesn’t match the standards Coelho has set for himself..I always felt the magic of Coelho’s novels lies in its characterisation, but unfortunately this novel looses out on its characterisation the most. Too many characters that did not add any positive impact to the plot. In fact I found them absolutely insignificant. I completely failed to understand why the author introduced so many characters in the novel. And since each character had a story in itself it did make the story very dragging at times.He tried to tell a lot of things through each one but failed to make a point with anyone.My disappointment lies in the fact that I always rooted for Paulo’s characterisation.Perhaps his men and women were always people whom I could identify myself with. But unfortunately in this novel, he fails miserably with his players. Most of them are stereotypes and the only intriguing character who could probably hold your interest is Igor. Sadly his portrayal is so half hearted that even though he is the protagonist you still don’t look forward to any of his encounters with the other characters. Igor justifies that everything is fair in love even if it boils down to killing people. Coelho hints that Igor’s “dual” character is like the one in modern society, in that it can be rational and objective on the one hand (as a businessman), and wildly illogical on the other. A successful businessman on one hand and an insane lover on the other, Igor could have been little more interesting unlike its cold and unidimensional portrayal.
I wanted to call this novel a psychological thriller but choose against it. When I began reading I actually expected a lot of twists and turns with mysteries and surprises. But to my utter dismay nothing of this sort unfolded. It was as simple as that, a man trying to win back his wife’s attention by killing host of people around him…I wonder how on earth one can justify this…! The book was generally just very negative, which is very unlike Coelho. He made it seem that everyone is unhappy, and there is no way that anyone at any position or situation or lifestyle can ever achieve true happiness. Everyone was miserable in the book, the businessman, the writer,the actors, the directors, the distributors, the journalists, and models, the assistants, the police officers, and the general public.In general too, there is not a single character you feel for. This is because they are just too typically portrayed, devoid of any depth or imagination.
With Paulo, you expect him to tell a story, pause and pop up some enlightening profound thoughts.That’s exactly what he did here, his usual mysticism and spirituality boosts the plot to some extent but sadly doesn’t make any difference to the stotyline as such. I miss the optimism of Coelho all along this novel which I look for. And at the end all, we are left to ponder with some cold blooded murders and a very very predictable ending which actually leaves you with no other choice than to feel absolutely disappointed.
All I would like to console myself thinking that this time Paulo attempted something different, detached from his usual style of writing, both in terms of subject and technique. Perhaps something he wanted to do for a long time, take a detour from his usual writing. Fair enough, though I would prefer him to be little more careful while venturing into this kinda literature .
Well, this novel though made me sad, will certainly not stop me from reading and reviewing his other works.I will look forward for them with even more zeal as am expecting a complete soul stirrer next time. But for now, with ”The Winner Stands Alone”, Paulo does stand alone, not sure though if as a winner !!!!

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