Gustáv Murín

Coelho is wrong

Chernobyl - Paulo Coelho is wrong

Written by Gustáv Murín

Taking on a world-renowned author, who just sold the movie rights to his bestseller "The Alchemist" to Harvey Weinstein, wasn't my intention, but I must admit that his notes about Chernobyl in his novel "The Witch of Portobello" were so outrageous that I couldn't help myself. I couldn't help wondering what on earth possessed him to bring up the disaster at all and why, if he had to mention it, he went so far in distorting its impact. The topic of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster actually has no greater (in fact almost none) importance for the story in this book. The only explanation I can think of to account for why Mr. Coelho introduced a few sentences about Chernobyl was because he felt that by mentioning Chernobyl he would somehow lend his novel some gravitis or prove some subtle point which somehow eluded me.

Let's begin by quoting this respected author about the casualties (p. 207, Harpers Collins, 2007): "The initial thirty deaths became, according to the expert John Gofmans, 475.000 cases of fatal cancers and an equal number of nonfatal cancers. A total of two thousand towns and villages were simply wiped out off the map. According to the Health Ministry in Belarus, the incidence of cancer of thyroid will increase considerably between 2005 and 2010, as a consequence of continuing high levels of radioactivity. Another specialist explains that in addition to the nine million people directly exposed to radiation, more than sixty-five million in many countries around the world were indirectly affected by consuming contaminated foodstuffs."

Is this true?

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