Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Cellist of Sarajevo” as Want to Read:
The Cellist of Sarajevo
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Cellist of Sarajevo

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  25,938 Ratings  ·  3,367 Reviews
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Standing at his window on May 27, 1992, the cellist has no idea what is about to happen. The mortar that falls in front of his apartment building kills 22 of his friends and neighbors as they wait in line for bread, and in a moment, his world is horribly diminished. In mute defiance of the danger of doing so, he carries his inst
Audio CD, 1 page
Published January 1st 2010 by Naxos Audiobooks (first published April 8th 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Cellist of Sarajevo, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Preethi Subramanian I don't think that he is planning to sue Galloway, but he is extremely upset about the fact that Galloway wrote about him- going as far to say that…moreI don't think that he is planning to sue Galloway, but he is extremely upset about the fact that Galloway wrote about him- going as far to say that Galloway stole his story and identity. (less)
Ellen Klock I found this book disturbing but then "War is Hell". Life or death seemed a matter of luck and the author ignored the whole ethnic cleansing issue.

I found this book disturbing but then "War is Hell". Life or death seemed a matter of luck and the author ignored the whole ethnic cleansing issue.

However, there's a lot to discuss and the shortness of the book will appeal to those resistant readers.

Lots of middle schools teach this particular title.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Aug 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
Few books have ever moved me to tears. Sure, I get sad every once in a while when reading a story, but hardly ever do I feel like crying after a novel. THE CELLIST OF SARAJEVO made me cry. Not face trembling, snot pouring from the nose type of crying, rather, the tears that came from completion of this novel were from a deep sadness I rarely experience. But before getting to my crying episode, let me first share a few things that I found amazing with this book:

1) It was written by Steve Galloway
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2014, balkans
Recently, I’ve been bemused by some ongoing commotion in my workplace over a draft blowing through some glass doors. Perhaps it’s because I just finished The Cellist of Sarajevo last night, but the office hubbub no longer amuses me and I think this is partly why books such as this one are fundamental. There are entirely far too many comfortable, middle-class people in their warm, dry cubicles complaining about things that don’t matter. These people will never know true hardship; their cities wil ...more
Aug 26, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Cellist of Sarajevo has received good reviews and on the surface has a lot going for it. It's well written, convincing in its detail and doesn't waste words. Three characters struggle to get by in besieged Sarajevo. Kenan walks off to get water for his family and neighbours; Dragan to get bread. The third, Arrow, is a female sniper charged with protecting the cellist, who for twenty-two days will play in the Markale marketplace to commemorate the victims of a mortar attack.

The triple, parall
Susan Rich
Jun 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was skeptical of a book written about Sarajevo by someone who neither lived through the seige nor who is a Bosnian, but I was wrong. The book is a lyrical song to a city l love very much. Clearly, the author has done enormous research and spent time in the city with Sarajevans. All that aside, what I love about this book is the deep empathy with the characters and with the city. Something about living in these unspeakable conditions is understood by the writer and rendered here with beauty and ...more
A combination of history and historical fiction, The Cellist of Sarajevo is a harrowing portrait of a late 20th century civil war set in central Europe... And an excellent reading experience.

further review to come...
May 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
During the Siege of Sarajevo in 1992, twenty-two people were killed by mortar fire while waiting in line to buy bread. A local Cellist commemorated them by playing his cello at 4 pm every day for twenty-two days on the site of the killings. This story is told through the eyes of three extraordinary people: a man who spends most of each day walking across the city to get water for his family and an ungrateful neighbor; another man who walks to his job at the bakery while dodging sniper bullets fr ...more
Mar 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Opening line: “It screamed downward, splitting air and sky without effort.”

A few years ago while I was travelling in Europe I met a guy from Sarajevo and we became friends. At one point he asked me if I knew anything about what had happened in his country. I replied that I knew very little, only what I'd seen on the news. Sasha laughed and never said another word on the subject, which at the time I found strange. Now I know why, what could he possibly say that I'd understand?

This is a beautiful
Liza Fireman
During a siege of Sarajevo in the Bosnian War, 22 people who were in line to buy bread are killed when a shell hits next to the bakery. It was next to a cellist’s apartment building, and he decided to play for 22 days, in memory of the dead, one day for each victim.

In a ruined city, where people are shot when crossing the street, this is a suicide attempt. And there is a sniper watching him, and basically he can get shot at any moment. A woman sniper, Arrow, is assigned to protect him. And she t
Dec 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a gorgeous, haunting book set in war torn Sarajevo in the mid 1990s, as the title implies. It's about so many things - the will to survive, making choices, and determining who you are underneath the trappings of civility, especially as they are stripped away with violence. Its about finding pleasure in small luxuries such as having electricity or seeing your children smile. Its about deciding what is moral. One line I think sums my feelings about this book rather nicely - its from later ...more
Aug 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Annalisa by: Jeana
My favorite part of this book was the discussion of Sarajevo's role in starting the first World War with an assassination. "When the world thought of Sarajevo, it was as a place of murder. It isn't clear to him how the world will think of the city now that thousands have been murdered. He suspects that what the world wants most is not to think of it all."

I was in high school when the siege on Sarajevo began. And honestly, I didn't know, or at least had forgotten, about Sarajevo's role in WWI, be
Dec 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: made-in-canada
3 Stars, rounded up.

I held out hope for this novel because many have raved about it. But, meh...

I'll say that Galloway has beautiful, lyrical prose, so the novel has that going for it. He was able to show the repetitiousness of war; there is constant shelling, constant bombing, constant fear for your life, etc. Outside of that, it really didn't get to me like it did some people.

I didn't enjoy the structuring. The three narrative structure felt a little contrived, in an effort to lay down some se
Feb. 28 update:

Since my trip to Whistler, where I had the chance to talk with, and listen to Steven, I have learned that the original cellist and Steven are now on good tems. Apparently, there had been misunderstandings (language barrier could easily play a role!), but now, all is well. :)

Below, the review, as previously written:

Henceforward, when watching daily news clips from war-torn countries, I will think of the three main characters in this story, and what it must be like to live this real
In 1992, twenty-two people were killed by mortar shells as they stood in a bread line in a town square during the Siege of Sarajevo. In honor of the deceased, a local cellist who had witnessed the attack played Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor at the site daily for twenty-two days. It is a bit of beauty at a scene of devastation. This fictional book is inspired by this true event in Sarajevo.

The book also tells the stories of three other characters trying to survive the devastation. Sarajevo is surr
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful book! Normally when I listen to an audiobook, I speed up the narration to 1.25x or even 1.5x. Speeding up the narration by Gareth Armstrong would have been blasphemous: he sounded like Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey! Narration aside, the book was straightforward and beautiful; the writing style reminded me of Ishiguro's "The Remains of the Day." Set in wartorn Sarajevo--but never getting into the specifics/politics of the war other than references to "the men on the hill"--the st ...more
Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this a couple of times ---

I never posted it on Goodreads? Shame on me! I thought everyone has read it! Its such a sad/sweet story. This small story can read it in a couple of hours --- Fresh air will pump through your body from the experience.

When I saw that my GR's friend --(also friend & neighbor)-- is reading it now ---my heart warmed!
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember hearing about this book and sorta deciding I just didn't want to read another book about another war, especially one that didn't really effect me. Then I was on vacation in Punta Cana and had nothing left to read so I decided to check out the book-exchange in the condo complex. It was this or a Harlequin Romance so I grabbed it. This book is Brilliant. Period.

It is about the siege of Sarajevo, but really it is about humanity. It is about choosing to survive. It is about surrendering
Dec 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A stark look at three lives affected by the siege on Sarajevo in the 1990's. I liked how Galloway avoided identifiers like “Muslim,” “Serb,” “Croat” and “Bosnian,” or any ethnic or religious labels in The Cellist of Sarajevo. The main characters are simply referred to as Sarajevans, their common enemy described only as “the men on the hills.”

There is a good mix of inner and outer demons. I think Galloway did a good job of showing what war does to ordinary citizens. And I liked how Galloway show
A truly AMAZING, 5 out of 5 stars, book that, simply put, everyone should read. It follows three stories - four, if you include the cellist's - of trying to survive and retain one's humanity (literally, as in being alive and human at the same time) while living in Sarajevo during the 1992-96 siege. The two men's stories (Keenan and Dragan) are particularly poignant and thought provoking: One man, a husband and a father, who is getting water for his family - a death defying act - and the other ma ...more
Sara M. Abudahab

A fictional story based on true events...

Somewhere in Sarajevo in 1992... 22 people were killed by a mortar bomb while they queued for bread, a cellist witnessed that and decided to play the cello for 22 days in the same spot at the same time, the cellist real name was Vedran Smailović.

"Is he playing for the people who died? Or is he playing for the people who haven't?"

This novel is really simple and short, with only three characters: Dragan, Kenan and Arrow...

-Dragan a father whose family got t
Today, Europe and the world face a refugee crisis. And a growing number of people raise opposition to accepting them into their countries. I am personally baffled by this inhumane response. It is selfish, fearful, heartless and well, I really can’t come up with one single positive trait to place on such misdirected rhetoric.

I would like to say to every one of them, read this book and then tell me that you would not choose to be a refugee rather than live in a war zone or city under siege. Even
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars - It was really good.

I typically really enjoy fiction based on true events and this one was no exception. When I was a young and ignorant teenager I worked with a few Bosnian immigrants that had fled their country due to all of the fighting, but I didn't really get it then and American news certainly was not covering it as much as they were the celebrity flavor of the month. I definitely was not aware that at the time, the Siege of Sarajevo was the longest city siege in the history of
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All wars are ugly but civil wars, neighbors killing neighbors, friends killing friends, are the ugliest. The war in the city of Sarajevo is told from the point of view of the besieged; those souls who were unlucky enough to be caught in the crosshairs of "the men in the hills". These the same hills where not many years before had been the path of the world's greatest skiers. This is a five star novel which puts to shame commercial authors who have sales of their books in the millions. There is s ...more
Saleh MoonWalker
Onvan : The Cellist of Sarajevo - Nevisande : Steven Galloway - ISBN : 1594489866 - ISBN13 : 9781594489860 - Dar 235 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2008
Julie Christine
A beautifully rendered, harrowing account of one month during the four-year long siege of Sarajevo (1992-96). It is remarkable that in such a slim work the characters could be so completely drawn and with such dignity. I noted in the author's acknowledgments those he thanked for helping him think like a Sarajevan and was touched that he allowed real voices to inform his work and speak through his characters. These voices of the four characters, whose survival in a destroyed city is linked by the ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Apr 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-reads
This book is raw and powerful. Written in the present tense, you are with the characters on the streets of Sarajevo during the siege of 1992-1995. It isn't fun being there, but it is compelling. The cellist plays for 22 days in the crater from a shell that killed 22 people standing in line for bread. Why?

The author has taken a dark event in human history and crafted a story whose theme transcends that event and is relevant to each life in every situation: Each life is important, that self respec
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book brought some memories to me. Not of war because I've never lived in these circumstances, but more of memories of my dad. My dad isn't dead or anything just felt he was similar to Kenan. I've seen my dad broken like Kenan was, due to not having money. He’d do whatever it took to feed us like Kenan did.

This book takes place in a city named Sarajevo during the Siege of Sarajevo. The opening scene is of a bomb shelling a group of 22 people. It really paints a strong picture on how quick de
Iain Snelling
Mar 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, this book divided the Hallam Cricket Club book club. I liked it very much, but the general feeling wasn't at all positive. I thought it convincingly explored the daily horrors of living in the siege, and the sense of bewilderment that that haracters felt. The three characters whose perspectives are given in detail are all plausible, and surviving as best they can - there is real suspense in places, particularly in the struggle to cross the road with the snipers firing down on them. I think ...more
Nov 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Recommended to Christie by: Robert
Everyone: read this book. I feel so blessed and sick at the same time. Blessed for where I live. Sick for the ignorance that's been mine. How many people are suffering every day while I go about my life? As a parent I was struck by the idea of having to sacrifice your life just so that your child could have water. It's humbling. This is one of the best books that I have read. My next step is to learn more about the conflict in Sarajevo.

SPOILER HERE ----> How amaz
Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
My favourite thing about historical fiction is learning something of history that I didn't know much about before. In this case, it was the Siege of Sarajevo. Of course, on May 2, 1992, when the Serbs blockaded the city, I was only 10 years old, so I'll give myself a pass on not keeping up with international affairs at the time. This book is a beautifully written account of three people struggling to hold on to their humanity in a city under siege.
The Cellist of Sarajevo is a heartbreaking but beautiful novel based on the Siege of Sarajevo that raged on for four years. However, this book is compressed into a period of about four weeks. At 4:00 in the afternoon on May 27, 1992 several mortar shells struck a group of people waiting to buy bread at the market killing twenty-two people and injuring many more. For the next twenty-two days, a renowned local cellist, who had witnessed the murders from his apartment, played Albinoni's Adagio in G ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Beauty of Humanity Movement
  • The Golden Mean
  • The Disappeared
  • Late Nights on Air
  • Coventry
  • Goodbye Sarajevo: A True Story of Courage, Love and Survival
  • The Jade Peony
  • A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali
  • Under This Unbroken Sky
  • Through Black Spruce
  • Whale Music
  • Cool Water (Juliet in Water)
  • Come, Thou Tortoise
  • Elizabeth and After
  • Kit's Law
  • Mercy Among the Children
  • Half Blood Blues
  • The Other Side of the Bridge
Galloway was born in Vancouver, and raised in Kamloops, British Columbia. He attended the University College of the Cariboo and the University of British Columbia. His debut novel, Finnie Walsh, was nominated for the in Canada First Novel Award. His second novel, Ascension, was nominated for the BC Book Prizes' Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and has been translated into numerous langu ...more
More about Steven Galloway

Fiction Deals

  • Echoes of Family
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Checking Out
    $4.99 $1.99
  • This Is the Story of You
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Outlaw
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Transit
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Class Mom
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Drawing Lessons
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Revolution 2020
    $3.99 $0.99
  • A General Theory of Oblivion
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Bloom Girls
    $3.99 $1.99
  • So B. It
    $6.74 $1.99
  • Island Beneath the Sea
    $10.49 $1.99
  • Petersburg
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Life is What You Make It: A Story of Love, Hope and How Determination Can Overcome Even Destiny
    $1.99 $0.99
  • As Good as True
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Last Telegram
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Spinning Heart: A Novel
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Ocean Liner
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Every Day Is Mother's Day
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Breakdown: A Love Story
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The House Girl
    $8.24 $1.99
  • The Shepherdess of Siena
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Man Who Could Be King
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Wildflowers (Glenbrooke, #8)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • A Mother's Secret (Hearts of Lancaster Grand Hotel #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Chasing Rainbows: A Novel
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Vagrants
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Perfect Son
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Winnowing Season (Amish Vines and Orchards, #2)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Feathered Bone
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties
    $3.99 $1.99
  • A Reunion Of Ghosts
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Crooked Little Lies
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Our Own Country (The Midwife, #2)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • The Women in the Castle
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Kat and Meg Conquer the World
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Hag-Seed (Hogarth Shakespeare)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • News of the World
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Girls
    $11.99 $2.99
  • We Are Okay
    $10.99 $2.99
  • The Nix
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Orphan's Tale
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Heart's Invisible Furies
    $11.99 $3.99
  • Salt to the Sea
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Now Is Everything
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Words on Bathroom Walls
    $10.99 $1.99
  • American Street
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Alice Network
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Pants Project
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Arcadia
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Hoot
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Secret to Hummingbird Cake
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden
    $10.24 $1.99
  • Black Swan Green
    $11.99 $1.99
  • London
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Swans of Fifth Avenue
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Shōgun (Asian Saga, #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
“A weapon does not decide whether or not to kill. A weapon is a manifestation of a decision that has already been made.” 87 likes
“She felt an enveloping happiness to be alive, a joy made stronger by the certainty that someday it would all come to an end. Afterward she felt a little foolish, and never spoke to anyone about it.
Now, however, she knows she wasn't being foolish. She realizes that for no particular reason she stumbled into the core of what it is to be human. It's a rare gift to under stand that you life is wondrous, and that it won't last forever. ”
More quotes…