Customer Reviews


40 Reviews
5 star:
 (23)
4 star:
 (11)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Must Read This Book
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway is a tremendous book. Set in Sarajevo during the siege of the city in the 1990s, the story is told from the perspective of three citizens of the city. To hear them talking about the way the city was before the siege and the average lives that they had before the war started is heartbreaking. Each and every day is a struggle to...
Published on July 18 2008 by MacFly

versus
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not great
[Cross posted to LibraryThing and LivingSocial]

The Cellist of Sarajevo is not really about a cellist, though it is the cellist's music that provides the unifying thread between the three main characters. Arrow, a young female sniper, has compromised her beliefs and basically given up her youth in the siege. We follow her over the course of the cellist's 22...
Published on Jan. 27 2010 by Andrea


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Must Read This Book, July 18 2008
By 
MacFly (Regina, Saskatchewan) - See all my reviews
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway is a tremendous book. Set in Sarajevo during the siege of the city in the 1990s, the story is told from the perspective of three citizens of the city. To hear them talking about the way the city was before the siege and the average lives that they had before the war started is heartbreaking. Each and every day is a struggle to survive while trying to maintain some semblance of a normal life. The center of the story is about a cellist who plays to play every day for 22 days in a spot where 22 people were killed while standing in a line hoping for bread. He becomes a light for the darkness in a city of people desperate for something beautiful. While I found the story incredibly sad, it was also hopeful and reminds one of the role of the human spirit in any conflict. This is one of those books that will stay with me for quite some time. While a work of fiction, there are many elements that are true to this conflict. It made it look at it in a very different way that what you feel simply from news reports. I recommend this book to everyone.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Story About Humanity, Jan. 8 2009
By 
Coach C (Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I read "The Cellist of Sarajevo" in one sitting and I have to say that it was the most emotionally invested I've been in recent memory over a novel. Set during the siege of Sarajevo during the early 90s, the fictional story of three main characters and a lone cellist will make you think more about what it means to be human, what humans are capable of at their worst and at their best.

As for the writing, I found Galloway to be superb in the way he described some of the more terrible scenes of carnage. Also, the struggle for survival and the motives behind each character are very well developed. As mentioned, there is a deep emotional attachment as a reader towards the characters in the novel.

Overall I can find no fault at all with "The Cellist of Sarajevo." I would not be surprised to see this book turned into a movie someday, just a wonderful story of what it means to be a human being.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and Incredible, Aug. 31 2008
By 
Spudwil (North Vancouver, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
Everyone should read this book. I couldn't put it down; my kids had to forage for their own dinner one night because I just had to keep reading. From the great character development and suspenseful plot to the amazingly hopeful and satisfying ending, this book will take you through the whole spectrum of emotions. I love how it is concise and to the point, making it an easy read for everyone. Not a page is wasted on unnecessary tangents off the storyline and the reader feels as if he is right there in the rubble with the characters, feeling their fear and despair. Such a great lesson in humanity, hope, and the perils and senselessness of war. My hat is off to the author.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Marvelous Book of Enduring Themes Amidst War, July 19 2008
By 
Ernest Yanarella "Ernie Yanarella" (Lexington, KY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book alternately mesmerizes and inflames. Its depiction of the siege of Sarajevo manages to tell something universal and quotidian at the same time. Its universal themes of life, death, hope, and despair are delicately balanced by its success in providing a sense of the everyday lives of a handful of Sarajevans seeking to negotiate the dangerous streets and byways of this war-torn city. The cellist of Sarajevo, nowhere given a name, serves as a magnet for sociality and a center for wide-ranging commentary and interpretation. For many, his actions serve as a mirror to the souls of the city's inhabitants and their estimate of the possibilities for a better future beyond war. The work is also a trenchant critique of the ravages of war and their impact on the humanity of all the combatants.

For these reasons and so many more, it is so sad that the real-life Cellist of Sarajevo has taken umbrage at this book's publication. His outrage toward the book and its author mistakes the role of the fictional cellist as the central figure in the book and therefore an assessment of his motives. It is really the characters who go about their daily lives amidst the devastation, risking their chance death by the hands of the mountain snipers, and yet mustering the courage to hope beyond the seemingly hopeless situation who are the true heroes. It is they--Dragan, Emina, Kenan, and ultimately Arrow--more than he who in this book find resources among the ruins of their formerly lovely city to keep on going and discover forbearance in universal things that matter to us all if we are to retain our humanity, when anger, hatred, and violence would be the greater temptation.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A small masterpiece by Steven Galloway, Aug. 3 2009
By 
R. Nicholson - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Cellist of Sarajevo (Paperback)
Although a work of fiction, this book's founding premise is based on a real life event. To quote from the 'afterword'...

"At four o'clock on the afternoon on 27 May 1992, during the siege of Sarajevo, several mortar shells struck a group of people waiting to buy bread...twenty two people where killed...For the next twenty two days Vedran Samilovic, a renowned local cellist, play Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor at the local site in honor of the dead."

Galloway uses this horrific event and Samilovic's heroic gesture to give us a glimpse of the spirit human...replete with all its unsuspected strengths and soul-searching frailties.

The story sequentially follows three individuals during the span of days that the cellist is playing the Adagio.
They are Kenan, a father with wife and children who must make a dangerous trek every few days to get clean water for his family and neighbor.
Dragan, a sixty four year old who, because he works at a bakery, is able to get bread on a regular basis for his sister and husband.
And Arrow, a female sniper whose growing reputation for 'kills' is about to put her in a situation that will profoundly change the way in which she looks at and interprets her own existence.

And although the three individuals never meet, they are indelibly connected by the events happening within the besieged city and, in a more remote sense, by the fact that someone (the cellist) is trying to make a gesture to honor the fallen.

Galloway's book is special; special because he is able to cut to the chase when describing peoples most private thoughts when under duress. Each of the three protagonist is wrapped up in an series of tragic events over which they have no control but yet has profoundly changed their lives. Through their eyes we are privileged to witness not only acts of selfless courage but also of some mind-numbing inaction; things that make them realize some of their own previously unknown inner strengths and yet at other times, expose personal shortcomings that absolutely crush their self-esteem.

Although the book focuses mainly on those within Sarajevo, there is one glimpse into the effect the war has had on the the besiegers ( referred to as 'the men on the hill' ). And if you will bear with me, I'll give a brief account of a point in this book that moved me very much...

The 'men on the hill' have sent a sniper to kill the cellist; to kill him while he is playing to make a 'statement' to those who remain in the besieged city. Arrow has been assigned to protect the cellist by killing the sniper; she eventually finds him across from the plaza where the cellist is playing, in a remote window...through her scope she sees...

"If he moves, she will fire. But he does not move. The music is nearly finished, and he hasn't shifted a millimetre. She begins to doubt herself, wonder if he's real, if it's possible he's a decoy. But then he moves, and she knows what she sees is a person.
His head leans back slightly, and she sees that his eyes are closed, that he's no longer looking through his scope. She knows what he's doing. It's very clear to her, unmistakable. He's listening to the music."

Conclusion:
A truly remarkable book; full on insights that will make you want to stop reading and reflect.
5 Stars...more if I could.

Ray Nicholson
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, Sept. 10 2009
By 
Toni Osborne "The Way I See It" (Montreal, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Cellist of Sarajevo (Paperback)
Centered on the conflict in Sarajevo, the story is recounting the struggle of three inhabitants during the city's siege during the mid 1990's: a female sniper called Arrow, Kenan a father on a trip to get water for his family and his neighbour and Dragan, a baker on his way to work. Uniting the story threads is a renowned cellist who witnessed the killed 22 people while they were waiting in line to buy bread. To commemorate each victim, he decided to play his instrument once a day in the crater left by the mortar shell.

This work of fiction highlights the harsh situations ordinary people are forced to endure during the time of civil unrest and how they adapt in order to survive. How each individual controls hate and tries to remain human facing the horrific atrocities of war.

Mr Galloway avoided labelling his main characters with ethnic qualifications by simply naming them Sarajevans and calling their enemies "the men on the hills". The prose is exquisite and quite moving; it is difficult to avoid wondering how one would react under similar circumstances. This is one brilliant tale that chronicles the evils of war and draws attention to the courage and spirit people inherently have within them.

This is one strong, powerful and utterly amazing novel.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You must read this, May 27 2009
By 
Len (Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Cellist of Sarajevo (Paperback)
The cellist of Sarajevo provides a focus for Steven Galloway's snapshot of life in that city during the nearly four years of siege that took place from April of 1992 to February of 1996. His novel follows the lives of three citizens of the city, all directly impacted by the cellist and the tragedy he witnessed in a marketplace just outside his home where twenty-two people were killed waiting for bread. In remembrance of this tragic event, the cellist will play one day for each casualty. The "enemy" has surrounded the city and snipers shoot at any individual who might cross their line of fire so the army sends their own sniper to protect the cellist. Her name is Arrow and, like all the characters in the novel, her perception of the world has been profoundly affected by the war. And, like the other two characters in the novel, the cellist and his music awakens them to the beauty that still exists in the world and their humanity as it exists separate from the atrocities of war. There's little excuse for not investing the time to read this short and beautiful novel.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard book to put down, June 2 2009
The novel covers the siege of Sarajevo that took place in 1996 and looks at it from the point of view of three different people. One, a gentleman who is on his way to gather water for his family. Two, a gentleman who is trying to cross the road to get some some bread yet fears getting killed by a sniper. And finally three, a sniper who goes by the name of Arrow and her mission to keep the a cellist safe from enemy snipers. The cellist is being protected by Arrow, as he has decided to play his cello for 22 days straight to commemorate the death of 22 people by mortar fire.

I liked this book because Galloway did a fantastic job, in my opinion, of conveying what it was like to be stuck in the city during the siege. Plus I appreciated the fact t hat the novel was written from several different perspectives.

If you're looking for a good book to read then look no further.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not great, Jan. 27 2010
By 
Andrea (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Cellist of Sarajevo (Paperback)
[Cross posted to LibraryThing and LivingSocial]

The Cellist of Sarajevo is not really about a cellist, though it is the cellist's music that provides the unifying thread between the three main characters. Arrow, a young female sniper, has compromised her beliefs and basically given up her youth in the siege. We follow her over the course of the cellist's 22 days as she watches him and protects him. Dragan is an older man whose family has fled to safety while he stayed behind and now isn't sure what he has left to live for. Kenan still has his family and struggles every day to provide for them and maintain some semblance of happiness.

Ultimately, I didn't love the book and don't necessarily agree that it's a masterpiece. That being said, it was very good. Maybe I was expecting the book to be something other than what it was: I was expecting more of a plot-driven story and, given the title, I was expecting more a focus on the cellist himself. Instead, the book alternated between Arrow, Dragan, and Kenan and was much more character driven. There are moments of suspense and tension, but the focus is on exploring these people's experiences of the siege, their different coping strategies, the sacrifices and compromises they have to make on a daily basis. Galloway does a very good job with these themes but, as one of my book club members said about the experience, it felt like the book was building towards something that never materialized.

The writing was sparse, vivid and at times, beautiful, but I felt that the Arrow sections could have been much better. It seemed like Galloway was trying too hard with them, maybe because she was the only female character? Arrow as a character also left me cold, though I suspect that may have been the intended response. Because most of the book was more reflective, the moments when action occurred were that much more intense. I actually gasped at one point and got a bit queasy at another.

In the end, I think the book is worth the read. The ideas that Galloway explores are interesting and it makes you think about how you would react in a similar situation, at the same time praying that you never have to experience anything like it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the read, June 8 2009
The Cellist of Sarajevo is definitely not in my normal genre of books. However after seeing it on the top 100 list over and over again I decided to give it a try...It was amazing, I'm so glad I took the chance. The author really captures the essence of humanity. Deep down we are all the same, we all long for some semblance of dignity and hope. I was deeply moved by this book and am planning to read again to really grasp the message this book sends.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Cellist of Sarajevo
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway (Paperback - Feb. 12 2009)
CDN$ 21.00 CDN$ 15.16
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews