"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

The Alchemy of the Alchemist: How Paulo Coelho became the most translated living author for the same book

Arash Hejazi


In April 2008, Paulo Coelho, the Brazilian author of The Alchemist, published in more than 150 countries (Sant Jordi, 2005) acquired the 2009 Guinness World Record for being the Most Translated Living Author for the same book (Sant Jordi, 2008). He also holds the Guinness Record for The Most Translations (53) of a Single Title (The Alchemist) Signed in One Sitting in an international book-signing held at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2003 (Sant Jordi, 2003).

The 2009 Guinness world record acknowledges The Alchemist as:

‘The most languages into which the same book has been translated, is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Brazil), a global best-seller, which can be read in 67 languages, including Hindi, Farsi and isiXhosa.’

The Alchemist was written in 1988 by Paulo Coelho, an unknown writer at the time, living in Brazil, a country without a prominent history of its literature being translated into other languages, a fact that makes the book eligible to be considered as a publishing phenomenon. No international bestselling author has achieved such success; being translated into so many languages and becoming a bestseller in every single country where he has been published. Furthermore, Coelho celebrated the milestone of 100 million copies sold of his books around the world in a party held on October 15th 2008 in Frankfurt (Sant Jordi, 2008). One can imagine that in a few years he might as well receive another world record certificate of being the most read living author of all times.

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Arash Hejazi is an Iranian editor, novel writer and journalist.

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