Monday, March 8, 2010

The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway

This is for Historical Tapestry's alphabet blog challenge. G is for Galloway!

A mortar attack during the siege of Sarajevo kills twenty-two people, people who were waiting in line to buy bread. Their lives were ended during such a mundane and humane moment, and so a cellist decides to honor them, or heal himself, by playing Albioni's Adagio in the crater of the attack for twenty-two days. Or at least as long as he can.

In the course of his effort to do so, the cellist and his music weave across the lives of three other of Sarajevo's beleaguered residents. The stories of these three other people are largely separate but joined by their individual revelations of humanity in the face of grueling war. The story of Arrow, a sniper who wants to keep her hands (and morals) clean, is the most compelling of the three, but all are lovely. I would not be surprised if the book's structure, intertwining the three stories, reflects the structure of the Adagio, but unfortunately I am a musical ignoramus so can only guess.

I am probably cheating in calling this book historical fiction, but I am quite willing to do so for two reasons: one, this was a historically significant war, even if it's modern, and two, the book is beautiful and worth touting wherever I can. The writing is clear and musical, and the characters come to life with resonance. I hope you read it!


Rowenna said...

I love that your recommendations through this challenge are often lesser-known and leaning toward literary--this is the second book I've put on my list of "must find at the library" from the Alphabet Challenge posts! Thanks for posting!

Marg said...

I have heard so many good things about this book and have it on my list of books to read for ages. Thanks for the reminder!

Princess Nijma

Princess Nijma