Jan 032012

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
Source: Local library (audiobook), personal collection (paperback)
Links: Amazon, Goodreads, Author’s website

In a city under siege, four people whose lives have been upended are ultimately reminded of what it is to be human. From his window, a musician sees twenty-two of his friends and neighbors waiting in a breadline. Then, in a flash, they are killed by a mortar attack. In an act of defiance, the man picks up his cello and decides to play at the site of the shelling for twenty-two days, honoring their memory. Elsewhere, a young man leaves home to collect drinking water for his family and, in the face of danger, must weigh the value of generosity against selfish survivalism. A third man, older, sets off in search of bread and distraction and instead runs into a long-ago friend who reminds him of the city he thought he had lost, and the man he once was. As both men are drawn into the orbit of cello music, a fourth character — a young woman, a sniper — holds the fate of the cellist in her hands. As she protects him with her life, her own army prepares to challenge the kind of person she has become. 

This was a very serious and sombre story, with  a serious and sombre narrator which fit together perfectly. Gareth Armstrong has a smooth deep voice that immediately sounded familiar to me, I had to look it up and confirm that he also narrated Shades of Gray by Jasper Fforde. A very different book, but again, his reading also fit.

This story follows several different people over a period of about a month. There isn’t really a plotline, it’s more a slice of life story that peeks into individual lives during a very difficult time. Each character is living under unique circumstances, and while they don’t really fit together, their stories do have similar feelings.

This book wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but it was interesting for what it was.

Challenges read for:

Canadian Book Challenge 5 – book 11

2012 Audio Book Challenge – book 1

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge – book 1

  2 Responses to “The Cellist of Sarajevo”

  1. I love when books have separate narrators who all seem to be connected…it's quite a remarkable thing to experience.

  2. I read this book a couple of years ago, and it was one of my favourites of that year. It is very sombre, but that's was one of the reason why I enjoyed it, it brought to life the realities of war. Having the multiple narratives really added to the experience. Sorry to hear it wasn't what you expected.

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