The Cellist of Sarajevo

by Steven Galloway · read February 20, 2019


I liked that this novel follows the perspectives of three different citizens of Sarajevo as they contend with the realities of their besieged city. I think that the thread connecting the perspectives – finding a way to live in what seems like an unlivable reality – is especially compelling. My favourite passage of the novel is Kenan's vision, as he listens to the cellist, of a day spent eating ice cream and taking the tram with his family; it is good to treasure life before it's taken away.

And to be a ghost while you're still alive is the worst thing he can imagine. Because, like it or not, sooner or later we all become ghosts, we are washed away from the ground until even the memory of us is gone. But there's a time when we are not, and you have to know the difference. Once you forget, then you are a ghost.

Julia Cooke © 2023