The Cellist of Sarajevo, By Steven Galloway

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Canadian Steven Galloway's measured, sombre novel is based on a real incident during the siege of Sarajevo. On 27 May 1992, several mortar shells struck a group of people waiting to buy bread. Twenty-two were killed and over 70 injured. For the next 22 days, a local cellist played Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor at the site in honour of the dead.

Around this symbolic event, Galloway imagines the lives of four characters – the cellist, the baker, a former clerk and a female sniper. The domestic realities of living through a city siege – the longest in modern warfare - are brought home in Galloway's intertwining stories. This unshowy performance forces the reader to re-evaluate the more hackneyed images from this miserable conflict - from the walking wounded to the hatless and shoeless dead.