Monday, December 29, 2014

"The Cellist of Sarajevo," by Steven Galloway

"The Cellist of Sarajevo," by Steven Galloway


One day a shell lands in a bread line and kills twenty-two people as the cellist watches from a window in his flat. He vows to sit in the hollow where the mortar fell and play Albinoni’s Adagio once a day for each of the twenty-two victims. The Adagio had been re-created from a fragment after the only extant score was firebombed in the Dresden Music Library, but the fact that it had been rebuilt by a different composer into something new and worthwhile gives the cellist hope.

Meanwhile, Kenan steels himself for his weekly walk through the dangerous streets to collect water for his family on the other side of town, and Dragan, a man Kenan doesn’t know, tries to make his way towards the source of the free meal he knows is waiting. Both men are almost paralyzed with fear, uncertain when the next shot will land on the bridges or streets they must cross, unwilling to talk to their old friends of what life was once like before divisions were unleashed on their city. Then there is “Arrow,” the pseudonymous name of a gifted female sniper, who is asked to protect the cellist from a hidden shooter who is out to kill him as he plays his memorial to the victims.

In this beautiful and unforgettable novel, Steven Galloway has taken an extraordinary, imaginative leap to create a story that speaks powerfully to the dignity and generosity of the human spirit under extraordinary duress.


This book was/is the choice for the January 2015 book club meeting, and to be honest I was dreading reading it.  As you read the synopsis of the book it all looks like doom and gloom; and after reading The Book Thief, I wasn't ready to read another book about war.

You will have no doubt have heard of the expression, "never judge a book by it's cover;" well that applied here.  This is one of the best written books out there.  The way the author writes is not flowery its to the point but it speaks to you in a way where you feel as though you are right there with the characters.  You truly feel the fear when Dragan and Kenan stand at the intersection wanting to cross the road, but are terrified in case a sniper will shoot them.  Arrow's concentration when picking her next target.

What really disturbed me the most though, was this happened "recently," and to think that these poor people in Sarajevo had to go through all this on a daily basis, just to get water or food makes me shake my head.  Them thinking that the outside world would come and rescue them and not doing so.

I didn't "get" the role of the Cellist in all of this.  So am interested to hear what the other members of the book club say about him.

Stars out of 5 : 5 Not a long book to read and one which you will get hooked on as soon as you start to read it.  If you don't read any other books that I review, please try and read this one, it is worthwhile.

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