Sunday, 15 February 2009

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

The Cellist of Sarajevo

This is a book about the siege of Sarajevo that lasted from 1992 until 1996, the longest siege of a city in modern times. Even if it in the book takes place under a shorter period.

It's a tale about the cellist who plays for 22 days to remember the 22 victims of a shell at the bread market. He is a sitting target for the enemy when he brings back hope in the hearts of the citizens.

It's a tale if the counter sniper who watches him from a window, while looking out for enemy snipers that want him dead. Can she keep the cellist alive, and what will the cost be of that?

It's also the tale of a man who every 4th day picks up his water canisters and make a hazardous journey to the only place you can get free water. To get there he must cross the entire city whole looking out for the men on the hill, the snipers and the shells.

And at last it's a tale of an old man who works in a bakery, and cos of that gets free bread to feed his family. But to get the bread he must walk to a city that is dangerous, and when he stands at the intersection every day he faces a horrible choice, to cross can mean death if the sniper decides to aim at him.

This book is beautiful in a haunting way. I feel like I am there, standing at the side of the road and seeing someone get killed, and knowing that I have to cross too. Every day is a fear or snipers and the shells falling over the city. Not to mention the lack of everything else.

Galloway knows how to write and bring emotions into it. Like the notes the cellist plays he writes about the notes in the human soul and the decisions that are made.

I was young when the war started and back then what did I know about war? It was the end of the world back then, but now I of course see how close it really is. And I can't believe that it could last as long as it did. It was in our own backyard.

This is truly a book worth reading, Galloway has balanced his words perfectly and they flow. It's an easy book to read in a way cause of that, but at the same time it makes you think.

I would give it a 4/5.


  1. I've heard good things about this one. It's definitely on my wish list.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  2. It is worth the read, and at the plus side it doesn't take that long to finish cos it is rather short :)

  3. I've just finished this book, and I thought the writing was excellent. The terror of life in Sarajevo came across very vividly. I just wish the plot had been developed further, as it felt very short and fragmented to me.

  4. He did bring the terror to life, and I guess it was like he said, he had to put 3 years of horror into like a month. But I would have liked to see more too, the book just captured med



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