The Cellist of Sarajevo Book Review
The Cellist of Sarajevo is a very well-written, historical-fiction novel about three fictional, dynamic characters present during the Siege of Sarajevo. The namesake of the book, The Cellist, is the semi-fictional character of V?dran Samilovi?, semi-fictional meaning that he has similar qualities and past, but is not historically accurate. V?dran Samilovi? is a former cellist player for the orchestra in Sarajevo. The Cellist of Sarajevo is a novel written by Steven Galloway, the author of three other Novels, Ascension, Finnie Walsh, and The Confusabulist. He is a very gifted Canadian author and has become very well-known because of The Cellist of Sarajevo, which has become popular in several countries, and is an international bestseller.
The Cellist of Sarajevo takes place in Bosnia during the Bosnian war, 1992- 1995.The Bosnian War was made up of Croats and Bosnians allied against the Serbs, the Serbs wanting some of the Bosnian land for themselves.So many Serbs lived in Bosnia that they had no trouble assaulting some of Bosnia, including Sarajevo. The Siege of Sarajevo lasted for several years, and there was little access to food and water. There was a tunnel leading out of Sarajevo, but it required a very high fee to use and not many people had enough money.
There are three major characters besides The Cellist. Arrow, the first character that is introduced after the Cellist, is a professional sniper. She is able to, “make a bullet do things that others can’t.” She is described as, “a weapon.” She remembers her happy days as a girl growing up, and she hates the “men on the hills,” for destroying her city, her friends, and her family. Arrow is overcome by her hatred, even using a persona—a made up character used to represent a part of somebody’s personality, to present it. As Arrow dwells on her hatred, she kills many of the enemy snipers. Arrow then realizes that she has a choice whether or not to hate the Serb soldiers. She must make a choice between hope and hatred.
The second character, Kenan, is a husband and a father, and is consumed by his fear of death. Kenan is obsessed with the prospect of dying, and is so focused on his family’s survival that he ignores the needs of the people around him. Mrs. Ristovski, Kenan’s neighbor is an important character because Kenan becomes frustrated with her trying attitude. Afterwards Kenan sees most people in Sarajevo as “ghosts”—people who only care about survival; people who don’t help others as best as they can; people who have given up on the old Sarajevo and have accepted Sarajevo as it is now.
Dragan is the third main character in The Cellist of Sarajevo, and he is similar to Kenan because he is fearful of death. Dragan is an elderly man. With his wife and son evacuated, he lives with his relatives. Dragan is also focused on simply surviving, and he does not think about other people. Emina, one of Dragan’s friends before the war, is one of the few people in Sarajevo who has hope. Through Emina, Dragan sees that having hope is a choice that people must make. Dragan realizes that he must decide whether or not to make that choice.
The Cellist of Sarajevo is written utilizing in media res, which is when the beginning of the story starts with an important event from a different time then goes to the beginning. This is appropriate for this story because it provides a good attention getter. As Steven Galloway intertwines the three characters’ stories, he includes temporal distortion, which can be described asa series of flashbacks, brief allusions to events that previously happened. Steven Galloway applies alliterations to some of his work to help imbue his book with the mood of negativity and hopelessness. The Cellist of Sarajevo is a very good read, and is inspirational, interesting and entertaining.

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