The Winner Stands Alone By Paulo Coelho

  AUTHOR- Paulo Coelho


ISBN – 978-0-00-731868-1

GENRE- Crime Fiction/ Thriller

SYNOPSIS- “If you love someone, you must be prepared to set them free.”
Igor Malev has one thing on his mind - his ex-wife Ewa. He's handsome, rich, and effortlessly personable - but she left him for a successful fashion designer, a sting he's never recovered from.

So he travels to the glamorous Cannes International Film Festival where they'll be appearing, intent on winning back her love. But Igor is a man of rare intensity and cold intelligence - and this is to be no ordinary reconciliation. For Igor made a promise to destroy whole worlds to get to his beloved.

EXCERPT- “The Beretta Px4 compact pistol is slightly larger than a mobile phone, weighs around 700 grams and can fire ten shots. Small, light, invisible when carried in a pocket, its small calibre has one enormous advantage: instead of passing through the victim’s body, the bullet hits bones and smashes everything in its path.”

       “Whenever someone dies, a part of the universe dies too. Everything a person felt, experience and saw dies with them, like tears in the rain.” 

       "People are never satisfied. If they have a little, they want more. If they have a lot, they want still more. Once they have more, they wish they could be happy with little, but are incapable of making the slightest effort in that direction.”

KOUSTABH 'QUETZALCOATL' says- How much can you love someone and how far will you go for love?? Seems a cheesy enough question from the back alley of movies, doesn’t it? But this is exactly what Paulo Coelho takes up, and effectively turns topsy-turvy, with the backdrop of glamour and what one would call as the ‘elite’ super class. In the seemingly exciting but divided grounds (both of mind and character) of the Cannes Film Festival, it is a story of a Russian Millionaire Igor (who was formerly in the soviet army, and later built his fortune on cell phones) and his idea to kill random people as a sign for his love towards his ex-wife Ewa.

       This is not a typical crime thriller, because this is not your typical author. The thrill here is not about the killer or his motives (that is cleared in the first few pages), but about the victims and their connection with the world of the book. Paulo Coelho delves into the mind of all the characters and wrenches out a well of emotions, ideas, and past which are as various as the characters themselves. The characters are usually not ‘grey’ (exception of course is Igor), thus making them easier to understand. From the sweet street hawker girl who sold amulets, to a high end director, a struggling actress and a girl on the path of a successful modeling career all have dreams and ambitions. So have Igor, Ewa and her new husband (and fashion magnate) Hamid, though all in different directions. But it is when dreams, love and ambition turns sour and turn into obsession and greed that the reality of murder and sabotage comes out.

      As the name itself suggests The Winner does Stands Alone, because in the fervent desire to win one seems to loose all morality and starts building a perverted vision of the world and its happenings. In the murky waters of superiority and fascinating water of dreams, one often comes to realize that one is quite alone, not in body but in the soul!!

       What strikes me best is Igor, the anti-hero, is a cold blooded murderer with a heart (now that’s weird, eh??). He chats with his victims and understand their role in the wider world. As Coelho says each person is a world in himself/ herself and it is the worlds that Igor wants to destroy as a gift and reminder to his wife, who seems to either ignore them or be too afraid to do anything. Amongst the lanes of Cannes one is transported yet and again to different pasts which has culminated in the present scenario. And the ingenuity of the murders is also a testosterone boost for some readers (Muahahaha)!!

       Being such a complex book with an array of characters makes ‘The Winner Stands Alone’ quite long. Unlike Coelho’s short and philosophically shocking books, this goes on almost forever. And this is exactly what destroys its perfect charm. The thrills are few and discussions on morality and mortality way too much. By the end of the book one really gets desperate for it to end. But beware, it ends with a mind boggling conclusion that I, for one, never perceived.

       So yeah it’s enormous (in comparison to other Coelho books), but it presents forth a very different scheme of both Paulo Coelho style and thriller novel. A must read for Coelho fans, it also must be a part of readers who do serious reading.

       Keep Reading Boys and Girls!!

P.S. - This book review was requested by Smita, and I hope she likes it as do the others.        

My Rating – 4.3 / 5 stars

PRICE – Rs. 273 (Flipkart Price)


  1. wow,this is so different from what i thought it would be! i didn't expect it to be a crime thriller at all. it sounds mind boggling, esp d part about d anti hero questioning his victims about their lives.

    if it's a long, long story then i might read this later- i'm currently not in d mood for heavy stuff. (after effects of seemingly never ending exams). but yeah, if the end is so enticingly unpredictable then i had better follow everyone's advice & get around to reading it as soon as possible! :)

  2. What shocked me what the end! Like you said, the book talks about a lot of things amidst the high profile Cannes.. A different kind of a read :)
    Your review was very honest and yes you pretty much summed up what I felt about the book :)

  3. awesoem review ! you really got me interested in to this.. I often read cohelo's books not for story butt he things he says through his characters .. weird yet so true .. i guess i will enjoy this one ..


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