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Paulo Coelho (born 1947) is a Brazilian novelist and memoirist. When he expressed interest in becoming a writer, his strict Catholic parents had him committed to a mental institution. After dropping out of law school and living as a hippie, he became a successful songwriter. He still dreamed of becoming a writer, so he began writing and published his first book in 1986. In 1988, he published The Alchemist, which after a slow start became an international bestseller. Since then, he has generally published a novel every other year, in addition to other writing. His novels have been translated into 80 languages.