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The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
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The Cellist of Sarajevo (original 2008; edition 2009)

by Steven Galloway (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,828None3,797 (4.07)372
Member:labfs39
Title:The Cellist of Sarajevo
Authors:Steven Galloway (Author)
Info:Riverhead Trade (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:fiction, Bosnia, Yugoslav War

Work details

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway (2008)

  1. 100
    Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (wisewoman)
    wisewoman: In both books, music is a character in its own right, set against a backdrop of human violence and tragedy.
  2. 81
    The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Alliebadger)
    Alliebadger: Both beautifully written accounts of atrocities we never really think about. Each one is a fast and amazing read.
  3. 30
    Pretty Birds by Scott Simon (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Many parallels between The Cellist of Sarajevo and Pretty Birds; the information on the Bosnian civil war in Pretty Birds is more complete and the writing is very good.
  4. 30
    The Siege by Helen Dunmore (gennyt)
    gennyt: Both are stories of cities under siege, and the struggles of ordinary people for survival in dangerous and extreme conditions.
  5. 20
    The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andrić (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Get a more full history of the conflict from this book.
  6. 00
    Floating in My Mother's Palm by Ursula Hegi (VivienneR)
  7. 00
    Flights of Passage: Reflections of a World War II Aviator by Samuel Hynes (napgeorge)
    napgeorge: Two books which show the boredom and horror of war. The only two books I have read which reflect what war felt like for me.
  8. 00
    Ritournelle de la faim by Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio (Cecilturtle)
  9. 11
    The Archivist's Story by Travis Holland (CatyM)
    CatyM: Two gripping portrayals of human reaction to living in a permanent state of tension and danger.
  10. 00
    Det dobbelte land : roman by Birgithe Kosovi´c (2810michael)
    2810michael: På dansk: Cellisten fra Sarajevo
  11. 00
    Between Mountains by Maggie Helwig (yagoder)
  12. 01
    The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian (Iudita)
    Iudita: Another intense,personal story within the chaos of a war zone.
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» See also 372 mentions

English (176)  German (2)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (182)
Showing 1-5 of 176 (next | show all)
I'm not sure I'll be able to cross a street in my neighborhood without thinking about Dragan trying to cross an intersection in Sarajevo and wondering if he'll make it to the other side alive. Snipers are in the hills above the valley and they watch and play a game of hit or miss with the people who have remained in the war torn country.
Then too, I may recall Kenan when I purchase a case of water from my local grocery store. It takes me, 10 minutes, it takes Kenan all day to reach the brewery to fill his containers with water. He must walk over the treacherous remains of bridges, dodge bullets and mortar fire just to get enough water for his family to survive a few more days.
Arrow, has become a sharp shooter. She does it because she hates the men in the hills who have killed her father and destroyed the city which she and many others have fond memories, either strolling down a street for ice cream, going to the library or hopping on a tram. Now, it's all gone.
The Cellist, ah, the cellist, he memorializes those killed in one particular tragic event while at the same time giving people a memory of their own or a dream as to how things can be again.
Through tears and fears people survive with lighthearted remarks and a love for life and a love for Sarajevo.
Highly recommended. ( )
  Carmenere | Apr 6, 2014 |
My words cannot do this book justice, therefore, I quote the author.

"Why do you suppose he's there? Is he playing for the people who died? Or is he playing for the people who haven't? What does he hope to accomplish?"

(Arrow is a female sniper who hates and kills the men attacking the city and it's citizens from the hills. She is reassigned to protect the cellist from harm.)

"Arrow let the slow pulse of the vibrating strings flood into her. She felt the lament raise a lump in her throat, fought back tears. She inhaled sharp and fast. Her eyes watered, and the notes ascended the scale. The men on the hills, the men in the city, herself, none of them had the right to do the things they'd done. It had never happened. It could not have happened. But she knew these notes. They had become a part of her. They told her that everything had happened exactly as she knew it had, and that nothing could be done about it. No grief or rage or noble act could undo it. But it could all have been stopped. It was possible. The men on the hills didn't have to be murderers. The men in the city didn't have to lower themselves to fight their attackers. She didn't have to be filled with hatred. The music demanded that she remember this, that she know to a certainity that the world still held the capacity for goodness. The notes were proof of that. "

( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
My words cannot do this book justice, therefore, I quote the author.

"Why do you suppose he's there? Is he playing for the people who died? Or is he playing for the people who haven't? What does he hope to accomplish?"

(Arrow is a female sniper who hates and kills the men attacking the city and it's citizens from the hills. She is reassigned to protect the cellist from harm.)

"Arrow let the slow pulse of the vibrating strings flood into her. She felt the lament raise a lump in her throat, fought back tears. She inhaled sharp and fast. Her eyes watered, and the notes ascended the scale. The men on the hills, the men in the city, herself, none of them had the right to do the things they'd done. It had never happened. It could not have happened. But she knew these notes. They had become a part of her. They told her that everything had happened exactly as she knew it had, and that nothing could be done about it. No grief or rage or noble act could undo it. But it could all have been stopped. It was possible. The men on the hills didn't have to be murderers. The men in the city didn't have to lower themselves to fight their attackers. She didn't have to be filled with hatred. The music demanded that she remember this, that she know to a certainity that the world still held the capacity for goodness. The notes were proof of that. "

( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
sad, disturbing ( )
  mahallett | Mar 30, 2014 |
Too little time since I started reading to read this book in one sitting. On the one hand I'm sorry for that, for I found it hard to put it away and part with it for the time that was needed to go to work, do chores, sleep, you know. On the other hand I'm absolutely not, because noe I had more time to enjoy it.

What a book! At first sight nothing much is happening. A man going to the bakery, a man going out to get water, a man playing the cello in the middke of a street, a woman-sniper that kills only soldiers.
But the book brings to life not only the characters, but also the scenery and tge atmosphere of the city that's under siege. It may not be historically accurate, or even geographically. But if I wanted that, I would have taken a history book or an encyclopedia combined with an atlas.
No, this book just fave what I was looking for: the powerful description of how ordinary people try to deal with a situation they didn't ask for, that they do not understand and, even worse, about which they don't know how long it will last. It is a great book, despite its sad contents never gave me the feeling that it was nagging or whining.

I'm not sure if it has been translated or not, but I'll look for a copy in Dutch to share with those who do not read English (well). ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Mar 7, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 176 (next | show all)
Canadian Galloway (Ascension) delivers a tense and haunting novel following four people trying to survive war-torn Sarajevo. .... With wonderfully drawn characters and a stripped-down narrative, Galloway brings to life a distant conflict.
added by SimoneA | editPublishers Weekly (Feb 6, 2008)
 
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Epigraph
You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you. - Leon Trotsky
Dedication
for lara
First words
It screamed downward, splitting air and sky without effort.
Quotations
It screamed downward, splitting air and sky without effort. A target expanded in size, brought into focus by time and velocity. There was a moment before impact that was the last image of things as they were. Then the visible world exploded.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307397041, Paperback)

This brilliant novel with universal resonance tells the story of three people trying to survive in a city rife with the extreme fear of desperate times, and of the sorrowing cellist who plays undaunted in their midst.

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.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:12 -0400)

While a cellist plays at the site of a mortar attack to commemorate the deaths of twenty-two friends and neighbors, two other men set out in search of bread and water to keep themselves alive, and a woman sniper secretly protects the life of the cellist as her army becomes increasingly threatening.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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