The Winner Stands Alone

( 49 )


In The Winner Stands Alone, Paulo Coelho has returned to the important themes of Eleven Minutes and The Zahir: Love and Obsession. He offers a suspenseful novel about the fascinating worlds of fortune and celebrity, where the commitment to luxury and success at any cost often prevents one from hearing what the heart actually desires.

Coelho takes us to the Cannes Film Festival, where the so-called Superclass gathers——those who have made it in the dreammaker’s world of fashion ...

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The Winner Stands Alone: A Novel

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In The Winner Stands Alone, Paulo Coelho has returned to the important themes of Eleven Minutes and The Zahir: Love and Obsession. He offers a suspenseful novel about the fascinating worlds of fortune and celebrity, where the commitment to luxury and success at any cost often prevents one from hearing what the heart actually desires.

Coelho takes us to the Cannes Film Festival, where the so-called Superclass gathers——those who have made it in the dreammaker’s world of fashion and cinema. Some of them have even reached the very top and are afraid to lose their lofty positions. Money, power, and fame are at stake——things for which most people are prepared to do anything to keep.

At this modern vanity fair we meet Igor, a Russian millionaire; Middle Eastern fashion czar Hamid; American actress Gabriela, eager to land a lead role; ambitious criminal detective Savoy, hoping to resolve the case of his life; and Jasmine, a woman on the brink of a successful modeling career.

Who will succeed in identifying his or her own personal dream among the many prefabricated ones——and succeed in making it come true?

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This tour de force demonstrates forcefully why Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho is reputed to be the bestselling author in the world. All the events in The Winner Stands Alone transpire in a single day at the Cannes International Film Festival. Igor, an affluent Russian businessman with a terrifying history of violence, descends on this festive scene, intent on reuniting with his adulterous ex-wife or exacting revenge on her and her new lover. In the midst of this chaotic celebrity circus, he pursues his mission, darting through a motley cast of partiers and bit players. Mixing social satire and sheer panic, this fast-paced thriller drives to its breathtaking conclusion, leaving us amazed that the author of The Alchemist would also be capable of this.
New York Times
“[This] Brazilian wizard makes books disappear from stores.”
The New Yorker
“[Coelho’s] special talent seems to be his ability to speak to everyone at once. . . . His readers often say that they see their own lives in his own books.”
Publishers Weekly
Coelho's latest blends spiritual allegory with elements of a thriller and does not lend itself to an easy audio production. Paul Boehmer singlehandedly tackles a cast of characters with a wide spectrum of languages and ethnic identities. The action surrounds 24 fateful hours at the Cannes Film Festival, as Igor kills off members of an elite “superclass” in a sociopathic rage against his ex-wife, Ewa. Boehmer provides a carefully constructed accent and speech pattern to his portrayal of Igor, and delivers an equally impressive turn as Ewa's current spouse, a Middle Eastern fashion mogul. Yet other principal figures in the story—particularly the female characters—do not receive the same attention to vocal detail; consequently, the dialogue exchanges sound uneven. A Harper hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 9). (Apr.)
Library Journal
New York Times best-selling author Coelho's ( 12th novel, following The Witch of Portobello (2007), is a gritty, bleak, 24-hour panorama of the Cannes Film Festival that skewers the beautiful people of cinema and high fashion. Audie Award nominee Paul Boehmer's (Moby-Dick) rich renderings of the wonderfully complex secondary characters are the highlight of Coelho's latest work, which is quite a departure from his trademark mystical parables. Best suited for appreciators of literary fiction and perhaps also psychological thriller fans. [Audio clip available through; the Harper hc was described as "a timely critique of the degeneration of the world's societal mores," LJ 3/1/09.—Ed.]—Beth Farrell, Portage Cty. Dist. Lib., Garrettsville, OH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061750526
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/13/2010
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Pages: 343
  • Sales rank: 275,963
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho, born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, is one of the bestselling and most influential authors in the world. The Alchemist, The Pilgrimage, The Valkyries, Brida, Veronika Decides to Die, Eleven Minutes, The Zahir, The Witch of Portobello, The Winner Stands Alone, Aleph, Manuscript Found in Accra, and Adultery, among others, have sold 150 million copies worldwide.

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    1. Hometown:
      Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 24, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    1. Education:
      Left law school in second year
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

The Winner Stands Alone

Chapter One

3:17 A.M.

The Beretta Px4 compact pistol is slightly larger than a mobile phone, weighs around seven hundred grams, and can fire ten shots. It is small, light, invisible when carried in a pocket, and its small caliber has one enormous advantage: instead of passing through the victim's body, the bullet hits bones and smashes everything in its path.

Obviously, the chances of surviving a shot of that caliber are fairly high; there are thousands of cases in which no vital artery was severed and the victim had time to react and disarm his attacker. However, if the person firing the pistol is experienced enough, he can opt either for a quick death—by aiming at the point between the eyes or at the heart—or for a slower one—by placing the barrel at a certain angle close to the ribs and squeezing the trigger. The person shot takes a while to realize that he has been mortally wounded and tries to fight back, run away, or call for help. The great advantage of this is that the victim has time to see his killer's face, while his strength ebbs slowly away and he falls to the ground, with little external loss of blood, still not fully understanding why this is happening to him.

It is far from being the ideal weapon for experts. "Nice and light—in a lady's handbag. No stopping power though," someone in the British Secret Service tells James Bond in the first film in the series, meanwhile confiscating Bond's old pistol and handing him a new model. However, that advice applied only to professionals, and for what he now had in mind it was perfect.

He had bought the Beretta onthe black market so that it would be impossible to trace. There are five bullets in the magazine, although he intends to use only one, the tip of which he has marked with an "X," using a nail file. That way, when it's fired and hits something solid, it will break into four pieces.

He will only use the Beretta as a last resort. There are other ways of extinguishing a world, of destroying a universe, and she will probably understand the message as soon as the first victim is found. She will know that he did it in the name of love, and that he feels no resentment, but will take her back and ask no questions about her life during these past two years.

He hopes that six months of careful planning will produce results, but he will only know for sure tomorrow morning. His plan is to allow the Furies, those ancient figures from Greek mythology, to descend on their black wings to that blue-and-white landscape full of diamonds, Botox, and high-speed cars of no use to anyone because they carry only two passengers. With the little artifacts he has brought with him, all those dreams of power, success, fame, and money could be punctured in an instant.

He could have gone up to his room because the scene he had been waiting to witness occurred at 11:11 P.M., although he would have been prepared to wait for even longer. The man and his beautiful companion arrived—both of them in full evening dress—for yet another of those gala events that take place each night after every important supper, and which attracted more people than any film première at the Festival.

Igor ignored the woman. He shielded his face behind a French newspaper (a Russian newspaper would have aroused suspicions) so that she wouldn't see him. An unnecessary precaution: like all women who feel themselves to be queen of the world, she never looked at anyone else. Such women are there in order to shine and always avoid looking at what other people are wearing because, even if their own clothes and accessories have cost them a fortune, the number of diamonds or a particularly exclusive outfit worn by someone else might make them feel depressed or bad-tempered or inferior.

Her elegant, silver-haired companion went over to the bar and ordered champagne, a necessary aperitif for a night that promised new contacts, good music, and a fine view of the beach and the yachts moored in the harbor.

He noticed how extremely polite the man was, thanking the waitress when she brought their drinks and giving her a large tip.

The three of them knew each other. Igor felt a great wave of happiness as the adrenaline began to mingle with his blood. The following day he would make her fully aware of his presence there and, at some point, they would meet.

God alone knew what would come of that meeting. Igor, an orthodox Catholic, had made a promise and sworn an oath in a church in Moscow before the relics of St. Mary Magdalene (which were in the Russian capital for a week, so that the faithful could worship them). He had queued for nearly five hours and, when he finally saw them, had felt sure that the whole thing was something dreamed up by the priests. He did not, however, want to run the risk of breaking his word, and so he had asked for her protection and help in achieving his goal without too much sacrifice. And he had promised, too, that when it was all over and he could at last return to his native land, he would commission a golden icon from a well-known artist who lived in a monastery in Novosibirsk.

At three in the morning, the bar of the Hotel Martinez smells of cigarettes and sweat. By then, Jimmy (who always wears different colored shoes) has stopped playing the piano, and the waitress is exhausted, but the people who are still there refuse to leave. They want to stay in that lobby for at least another hour or even all night until something happens!

They're already four days into the Cannes Film Festival and still nothing has happened. Every guest at every table is interested in but one thing: meeting the people with Power. Pretty women are waiting for a producer to fall in love with them and give them a major role in their next movie. A few actors are talking among themselves, laughing and pretending that the whole business is a matter of complete indifference to them—but they always keep one eye on the door.

The Winner Stands Alone. Copyright (c) by Paulo Coelho . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 49 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 49 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    From the author of the Alchemist comes another.......

    Paulo Coelho's The Winner Stands Alone by Annette Dunlea (Book Review)
    This hardback The Winner Stands Alone is written by Paulo Coelho, the author who wrote The Alchemist. Its ISBN is 0007306067 and it is published by Harper Collins. The book is set during the Cannes Festival and all action takes place within 24 hours. Coelho explores the world of fashion and cinema and discovers it is shallow and immoral. The theme is Igor's obsession with his ex-wife Ewa who is terrified of him. He decides to go on a killing spree to win his wife back. The story chronicles the serial murders and the characters he encounters on his journey. Igor justification is all is fair in love. He will do anything to win back his ex wife. Coelho is lamenting the lost values of our society that can not be reclaimed. It is well written and an easy to read thriller.
    Reviewed by Annette Dunlea author of The Honey Trap and Always and Forever

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2009

    Very Different

    While good, this book is very different that Coehlo's past novels. The book is not as spiritual, violent, and has a very different topic than his other books. Although some past themes shine through in this new book, avid readers of Coehlo's other books may be disappointed. This book was definitely a page turner and I enjoyed it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 15, 2009


    THE WINNER STANDS ALONE is a masterpiece: it talks about values lost and never found again. It looks like a thriller, but it is not - the characters are trapped and manipulated by the people Coelho calls "The Superclass". Once more Coelho made it. And I also believe Coelho is one of the few writers that are always exploring unknown seas, instead of repeating the same plot over and over again. Kudos to him.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2009

    An Enjoyable Read

    Celebrities, cameras, exquisite banquets, fashion. And than there's reality. In his most controversial book to date, Coelho investigates the contemporary world of celebrity and what is hidden underneath the facade. Set during twenty-four hours at the Cannes Film Festival, we are introduced to a culturally diverse set of characters-the dangerous Russian entrepreneur Igor who destroys lives in a bid to win back his now-married ex-wife Ewa, a driven young Italian actress Gabriela whose destiny drastically changes twice in one day, an African teenager Jasmine set to sign her first major modeling contract but secretly torn between her career and her love for another woman, and Ewa's fabulously rich Middle Eastern fashion-designer husband Hamid who is blissfully unaware of Igor's plans until it is too late. Along the way, Coelho showcases various members of the show-business hierarchy such as its naive and exploited starlets, professional workaholics who are hostages to their own ambitions, and Superclass celebrities who have made it to the top but are secretly terrified of fading into obscurity at any moment. Yet, Coelho's newest offering isn't only a critical look into the makings of modern society dominated by pop culture, but also a tragic love story of a serial killer with a shocking outcome surprisingly foreshadowed by the book's title. Igor's journey for vengeance forever alters not only Igor's and Ewa's lives, but also the fate of the people Igor meets along the way like the innocent street-vendor Olivia, the superstar movie distributor, the aspiring movie-maker Maureen, and the unnamed troubled actor simply referenced to as the Star along with the Director of his new film. Interspersed throughout the story are curious factual aspects of the industry as well as Coelho's signature analysis of the celebrity-obsessed culture where both the audience and the celebrities are revealed to be victims of the system. There are also interesting tidbits about famous people like Coco Chanel (apparently she had a very negative childhood and underwent a string of wealthy lovers before she became the famous fashion designer we know today), as well as introspective reflections on fame, fashion, jewelry, and money among other topics. The eloquently described stars are revealed to be just as unhappy as the very audience they cater to, trapped into contractual freedom-less lives not much better than the standard nine-to-five-with their luxurious lifestyles a well-masked lie and self-esteem only as high or low as their latest career performance. Overall, I enjoyed Coelho's fluid writing and in particular his descriptive inclusions of various character viewpoints and industry revelations. Through his book, I feel that Coelho has given celebrity-ism a realistic new meaning-one not widely explored in the otherwise star-struck magazines or TV shows. With this new book, Coelho has left behind his ancient parables like The Alchemist and the The Devil and Miss Prym, and shifted to the present while appreciatively retaining his characteristic philosophical outlook on life and destiny, successfully depicting a plot filled with tension right up until the last page. Despite everything, even if the winner does stand alone, I bet everyone wants to be that winner.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2013


    Read my post at the tenth res. <br>
    &#1492 The Writer ~

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2013


    I love kingdom hearts nice story~mustacheluvr

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2013

    Re:Volt Prologue I --The Journal

    Thank Namine.<p>Those were the words that inspired hope and wonder in thousands and thousand of souls during the end times of Twilight Town. Though the original purpose of the phrase has been long, long forgotten, they became the center of a great and massive cult. The Awaiters.<p>These words were found in an ancient journal. This journal's orgin is a clear as what, or who, the phrase contained in it was meant for. But it is the only visible phrase in the fat book. Who was Namine? That was the question for a long time. Eventually Namine became the name of a deity. The name was not given to the deity, but rather the deity was created for the name. The Awaiters, as they named themselves, did their best to thank their god every day. In fact, their guiding principle, is "With every breath, movement, and action, we must Thank Namine."<p>It was a peaceful time when this religion-cult was created. There were no battles, the world of Twighlight Town grew everyday. And history was forgotten.<p>They say that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.<p>It wasn't long before the Orginazation and the Dark Corp came from their own dark, unholy worlds to plague Twighlight Town. No, they were not aliens. When I say world here, I do not mean a planet. I mean an entire universe. These universes are home each to their own adventures.<p>At any rate, Twighlight Town fell quickly. But while the Orginazation was content with their work, the leader of Dark Corps, an evil witch named Malificent, sought further worlds to add to her growing collection. Using her massive army of Heartless, shadowy creatures devoted to mischief, she took over many worlds.<p>Thus was the end of Twighlight Town. That world is now known as The World Unseen.<p>But our story occurs after the reign if the Orginazation and Dark Corps were secured. It does not even begin in The World Unseen. It begins in a small, backstreet world, known as Destiny City. This world was once but a small, nearly uninhabited island, but a vistiors came, they added more and more onto the island, and it became something to rival Venice in it's architecture. It is a city of docks, wharves, canals...Gondolas, Romance, prosperity...<p>It was a city of peace.<p>Yes. I said was.<p>That peace was abruptly ended by the foolish actions of a power-hungry fool. But he was not evil. Or at least, not intentionally. He and his friends were simply restless. And this is their story...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2013

    A Bit Too Verbose

    A Russian businessman wants to retrieve his wife who has run off with a fashion tycoon from the middle east. He goes to Cannes where the super rich gather for films, fashion, parties, and ego. In this environment, he becomes a serial killer of stars, directors, merchants, film distributors, and whoever may be unfortunate enough to cross his path.

    This is not a typical Coelho plot, but as a fan I have learned to expect to be pleasantly surprised. In this case, I found myself somewhat bored. As the author attacked both super rich and superficial values, over and over again, I found myself becoming hungry for action. There were too may descriptions of this valueless society, and plot was placed on the back burner. While the last thirty pages returned to a story and established some suspense, it was a little to late.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    Not his best . . .

    Paulo Coelho is one of my favorite authors, but "The Winner Stands Alone" is not one of my favorite books. Perhaps the author thought he would take a departure from his usual genre and write a spy-type novel about a psychopathic hit man. While I can appreciate the desire to stretch one's wings and try something different, this has been done before and by authors who are better at this.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    He did it again!!

    I have been a Paulo's follower since the Alchemist and in my case my favorite from him,The Fifth Mountain,and on this book he show us one more time how easy is for him to describe human kind,he speak to the readers describing their life and personalities through the characters on his book.I think that everyone can find something of his own on at least one of this interesting people that come to live on this book.Very good book!!

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  • Posted June 11, 2012

    Great book, I plan on reading more from this author.

    Great book, I plan on reading more from this author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2012


    Oh kk bye

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2012


    What did they do?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2011

    Cuelho has done better

    While most of cuelo's work maintains a string of universal truths and spiritual principals this work seems void of such strength.

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  • Posted June 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer


    This is a hard book to review. It's really one that a reader needs to read for him- or herself because it's the type of book that people relate to individually. As for me, I thought it was a good book. I can't say that I enjoyed it, because "enjoy" is not the right word. The correct words would be more like, thought-provoking, profound, insightful, unique.

    Paulo Coehlo gives us a backstage look at the "Superclass", the sect of people who are above us mere mortals-- the rich and famous, whom many of us idolize. His lifting of the curtain to give us a peek allows us to see the dirty underbelly of the "Superclass", and makes us question our own reverence of this group of people. After all, they are only human, just like the rest of us.

    He uses his main characters, Igor, Ewa, Hamid, Jasmine, and Gabriela, to take us into this high class world, and weaves them into a story that captivates the reader as well as exposing the superficiality of the "Superclass". Igor's quest for revenge interconnects these five characters as well as questioning their own dreams and wants. It caused me to look at my own life in the same way, seeing what is real versus what is false.

    The end was definitely not what I expected, which is a good thing. I love it when the ending of a book goes in a different direction. Life itself doesn't always continue in an expected way, and it's good to find a book which understands that. I can't really say too much more without spoiling it, so read it yourself... ;)

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  • Posted June 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer


    I see a lot of reviews that are upset that its different from Paulo's other books, but I dont understand how thats a bad thing. I think variety is the spice of life and I really enjoyed the book a lot. I think as a writer its important to explore other subjects and forms of writing and this book was entertaining and gave a new interesting perspective of fame, love and obsession.

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  • Posted August 22, 2009

    Another winner for Coelho

    A very violent book and quite different than the recent 11 Minutes. The Russian negativity is intense here and though as a work of fiction one must wonder if the author harbors these type of feelings towards the Russian people. It is a well done piece as one would expect from this Coehlo. I find his stye has become more westernized since Alchemist days and for me, more readable. In many ways, it is not a pretty book at all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2009

    THriller of the Morders

    I found this book to be a ggood read overall, but at times slow because the author tended to drag out the ending a bit! The book was repeatative and in the end not a mystery!
    In the past, this authors books, I have found more interesting and thrilling because the plot seemed to have flowed quicker and more fluently! The story was ended by midbook and not as intriguing as the others! Worth reading for the lifestyle and not out of interest purely!

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  • Posted July 18, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The Winner Stands Alone!

    This novel is one of many of Paulo Coelho's that you MUST READ! In each of PC books, I am whisked away to a magical place that I never want to leave. Paulo must have walked in their shoes at one point or another in their live...Coelho captures each voice with a clarity that makes bells sound hazy.

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  • Posted July 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    Coelho most have been in one of his more morose moods when he penned this novel. Having recently read "The Alchemist" and "Brida"...I was disappointed in this literary contribution with its psychotic lead character, Igor, wreaking homicidal havoc throughout a 24 hour period during which he seeks revenge against his lost love/wife.

    I found the well as Coelho's apparent justification of the murderous acts of be unsettling. Enough so that it will be a long while before I delve into any of his other works. In my opinion...although I always find his work thought provoking...this demonic work has no salvation as far as I'm concerned.

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