Saturday, 12 December 2020

The Cellist Of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

The Cellist Of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
Published by Atlantic Books in May 2009.

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my partner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Snipers in the hills overlook the shattered streets of Sarajevo. Knowing that the next bullet could strike at any moment, the ordinary men and women below strive to go about their daily lives as best they can. Kenan faces the agonizing dilemma of crossing the city to get water for his family. Dragan, gripped by fear, does not know who among his friends he can trust. And Arrow, a young woman counter-sniper must push herself to the limits - of body and soul, fear and humanity. 

Told with immediacy, grace and harrowing emotional accuracy, The Cellist of Sarajevo shows how, when the everyday act of crossing the street can risk lives, the human spirit is revealed in all its fortitude - and frailty.

I realised, when referencing The Cellist of Sarajevo in my recent review of The Courtyard Children, that I hadn't yet transferred its review to Literary Flits. This short review was first blogged on Stephanie Jane in May 2015.

The war in Sarajevo is still very close in time and was very close geographically so in reading The Cellist I had a strong sense that it could easily have been us in those situations. I find it relatively easy to distance myself from historical wars, but this book rang close and true. Perhaps the matter of fact tone of the prose is what does it? Galloway doesn't waste words on plot devices to add false excitement or include tenuous relationships to tug at readers' heartstrings. Indeed much of the book is spent with people waiting to cross roads. Such a simple action that most of us accomplish several times each day. Except in Sarajevo, crossing now might get you shot. Or now might be fine and another five minutes would be the wrong choice. I imagine living like that could only induce madness.

An amazing book that should be widely read to understand how easily people will slip into Them And Us, into hatred, and into war.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Steven Galloway / War fiction / Books from Canada

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