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The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
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's review
Apr 05, 11

Read from March 17 to April 05, 2011

The Cellist of Sarajevo was inspired by real-life events. After 22 people were killed by mortar fire while waiting in a breadline during the Siege of Sarajevo, a cellist who witnessed the event commemorates their lives and deaths by playing at the site for 22 days, one for each victim.

Steven Galloway’s novel gives a glimpse into the lives of four characters during just a few days of the siege, days surrounding the cellist’s performance. One man makes the life-threatening trek to collect water for his family. Another seeks his daily ration of bread. A third is a reluctant sniper, recruited to fight the city’s attackers and protect the cellist. All try to adjust to life in a warzone and question how they can maintain their humanity in a world of sniper shootings and shellings.

Cellist is a moving, well-written novel. It is particularly thought-provoking considering recent political upheavals and violence. It’s hard to understand how the international community reacted so slowly to almost four years of genocide in Sarajevo, yet the debate continues today over if, when, and where peacekeepers should step in to prevent further violence.

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