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Coelho biography raises hackles

books Updated: Jun 01, 2008 22:48 IST
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The authorised biography of Brazil's superstar writer Paulo Coelho arrives in bookstores next week, but it may be dampened by a controversy that threatens to sour ties between the mystic novelist and the nation's literary academy.

The Magus, a 600-page portrait by journalist Fernando Morais, makes several eyebrow-raising claims, among them that the Brazilian Academy of Letters (ABL) accepted Coelho in 2002 because the writer was childless and it speculated that in the case of his death, he could leave a substantial part of his fortune to the institution.

The biography also claimed that ABL members accepted the 60-year-old author of The Alchemist and The Witch of Portobello thinking the decision would attract media attention and revitalize the entity's image.

The book was supposed to have its public debut at ABL headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, but the chapter on the speculation over Coelho's fortune led the institution to scrap the ceremony, according to local media reports Saturday.

Coelho had earlier written that he had never interfered in the drafting of the biography, and that all he did was open his personal archives to Morais.

“In other words, Fernando is free to speculate how he wishes about my election” to the ABL, Coelho wrote.

The biography also revealed that Coelho's second book, Practical Manual of Vampirism, was actually authored by an old friend and collaborator, identified as Toninho Buda, whom Coelho never credited for the work originally published in 1985.