The Cellist of Sarajevo - Steven Galloway

The Cellist of Sarajevo

By Steven Galloway

  • Release Date: 2008-05-15
  • Genre: Literary
Score: 4
From 188 Ratings


A spare and haunting, wise and beautiful novel about war and the endurance of the human spirit and the subtle ways individuals reclaim their humanity.

In a city under siege, four people whose lives have been upended are ultimately reminded of what it is to be human. From his window, a musician sees twenty-two of his friends and neighbors waiting in a breadline. Then, in a flash, they are killed by a mortar attack. In an act of defiance, the man picks up his cello and decides to play at the site of the shelling for twenty-two days, honoring their memory. Elsewhere, a young man leaves home to collect drinking water for his family and, in the face of danger, must weigh the value of generosity against selfish survivalism. A third man, older, sets off in search of bread and distraction and instead runs into a long-ago friend who reminds him of the city he thought he had lost, and the man he once was. As both men are drawn into the orbit of cello music, a fourth character—a young woman, a sniper—holds the fate of the cellist in her hands. As she protects him with her life, her own army prepares to challenge the kind of person she has become.

A novel of great intensity and power, and inspired by a true story, The Cellist of Sarajevo poignantly explores how war can change one’s definition of humanity, the effect of music on our emotional endurance, and how a romance with the rituals of daily life can itself be a form of resistance.


  • Amazingly different

    By lynned8
    I immediately engaged with this style. I cared about the three people and the cellist. An amazing read for one that likes literary style.
  • Profound

    By SLKnurse
    Beautiful- brings the pain, fear and reality into focus. Not for the weak of heart, spirit or mind. Let us treasure our lives and hold life’s joys in hand and hearts.
  • Cellist from Sarajevo

    By Bj3551
    Ok but not great. Very Repetitive.
  • Cellist of Sarajevo

    By Globa5001
    I've read over 300 books and this is one of the top 3...and it may be on top. Only a second read will tell for certain. Beyond brilliant in so many categories. It's beyond my ability to critique.
  • beautiful

    By Tongzhi
    this book, simply put, was beautiful. the language and writing was top notch and really drew me into the story. the story was extremely engaging and i felt a real connection to the characters. i'm a rising freshman in college and never would have read a book like this for pleasure. when i do read for pleasure, i read in other genres - at the end of the book, i felt like crying. it wasn't necessarily a bad thing and i also feel that i have learned more about an event that has been absent from my education to date. the novel does not over load you with historical facts, but gives enough to orient a reader who knew nothing previous by the end and leave you interested in learning and understanding more.