The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway


Through the experiences of four individuals, this book recounts the horrors of the siege of Sarajevo.  Really, it’s three individuals, and the cellist who plays Albinoni’s Adagio every day on the spot outside his window where a mortar killed 22 people standing in line to buy bread.  The beautiful and brave action of the cellist which denies the dehumanizing effect of the seige moves them all, including a sniper sent to kill him.  The three struggle to survive to bring water to their families, risk their lives to rescue people shot by the snipers who watch their every move from the nearby hills, and in the case of a woman sharpshooter, to cope with the hate that she has, now that she has become a killer.  They don’t understand how it could be that the beautiful and cosmopolitan Sarajevo is reduced to rubble, where electricity is rare and everyone is thin and aged. 

It’s hard to imagine that this seige actually last nearly 4 years, from April, 1992 to February, 1996 and that 10,000 people were killed and 56,000 were wounded.  

The actual cellist’s reaction to the book is disheartening.

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