BookBrowse Reviews The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

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The Cellist of Sarajevo

by Steven Galloway

The Cellist of Sarajevo
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  • First Published:
    May 2008, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2009, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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Novel. A spare and haunting, wise and beautiful novel about the endurance of the human spirit and the subtle ways individuals reclaim their humanity in a city ravaged by war

Just 52 days after the Siege of Sarajevo began, 35-year-old cellist Vedran Smailovic watched as a mortar shell killed 22 of his friends and neighbors waiting across the street in a bread line. For the next 22 days, Smailovic took his cello to the site of their deaths and played the hauntingly beautiful Adagio in G Minor, the only response he felt he could make in the face of so horrific an event. It is this reaction to the inhumanity of a brutal war that forms the core around which The Cellist of Sarajevo revolves.

It is difficult to imagine what it would be like to exist in a place where the choice of which street to cross and when to do so is a life and death decision. Galloway's writing transports readers into exactly those circumstances, putting them right there...

The Balkans

The 20th century was an intensely bloody time for the Balkan region (20th century timeline & maps) as it emerged from centuries of control by the Ottoman Empire, and briefer control by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, that triggered World War I, took place on the Latin Bridge (also known as the Princip Bridge) in Sarajevo (now the capital of the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina) leading to massive bloodshed across Europe including the Balkans.

The bloodshed in the Balkans during World War II was even worse. The diverse ethnic and political groups living in the area fought among themselves as well as against the Nazis. Yugoslav war casualties topped one million people, and over half a million (mainly ethnic Serbs, ...

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