Coelho targets celebrity in Cannes thriller

Thu Apr 16, 2009 7:50am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Bestselling author Paulo Coelho says important values have been lost in the frenzied pursuit of fame, and he turns a critical eye on celebrity in a new novel set amid the glitz and glamour of the Cannes film festival.

"The Winner Stands Alone" follows serial killer and wealthy Russian entrepreneur Igor as he resorts to extreme measures to win back the affections of his ex-wife Ewa.

Through a cast of stunning models, movie moguls, wannabe starlets and jaded hangers-on, the Brazilian said he had written "not a thriller, but a crude portrait of where we are now."

A regular visitor to the annual film festival, the 61-year-old author of "The Alchemist" set out to try to understand why visitors behaved as they did in Cannes.

People with beauty or big bucks or both descend on the Riviera resort each year and fret over coveted party invitations, lose sleep over what to wear and dream of being spotted as the "next big thing" in the world of entertainment.

"I said 'My god, these people are here, spending fortunes, and where is the fun?' That was my question," Coelho told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"And why do they behave like this? That was the starting point of writing a book on fashion and celebrity and values, because it is also a book about values."

Having sold tens of millions of books, and with The Alchemist due to be made into a movie produced by Harvey Weinstein, Coelho, to an extent, is part of the world he seeks to dissect in The Winner Stands Alone.   Continued...

<p>Brazilian author Paulo Coelho looks on during his arrival for the opening news conference of the Frankfurt book fair, October 14, 2008. REUTERS/Alex Grimm</p>