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War always destroys more than one can imagine from a distance. All buildings, stuff, personal belongings can be replaced, but a human soul cannot. The cellist of Sarajevo shows the struggle to keep a hold on your own humanity.

Let me start with this right away: The cellist of Sarajevo is not the most gripping tale about war and destruction. It isn’t a tearjerker, it isn’t heroic, and it isn’t victorious. It is just a tale like that of every other person. And because of that it is relatable, and in this modern day and age with the ongoing wars and conflicts the struggle to survive of the average person has become something that causes discussions and more conflict. As people hear the stories of refugees and survivors, often scarred by what they’ve seen and experienced, it raises the question: And what about when the war is over? That is what The cellist of Sarajevo is really about, about who you will be after the violence and threaths end.


There are many stories that take place during war, and many of those show the struggle to survive. These stories show how people change, turn on each other, become heroes. However, this is only one side of the story: the story during the war. The cellist of Sarajevo uses the siege of Sarajevo, in which thousands of people died and the city was brought to ruin, to tell the story of the daily struggle. Not the struggle from day to day but the struggle with the future.

As a human being, you have sometimes limited control over how things affect you. And sometimes you have a lot of control. The cellist of Sarajevo tells the stories of four complete different individuals who are bound together by one incident that affects everyone. They had no control over that incident, but they can chose on what to do next. This book isn’t about the hardships they suffered, but about different methods of survival, about the possibility of adaptation, and about the return to humanity. Because even when the world seems to want to destroy you, you are the only one who chooses how that affects you.

The cellist of Sarajevo
Snipers in the hills overlook the shattered streets of Sarajevo. Knowing that the next bullet could strike at any moment, the ordinary men and women below strive to go about their daily lives as best they can. Kenan faces the agonizing dilemma of crossing the city to get water for his family. Dragan, gripped by fear, does not know who among his friends he can trust. And Arrow, a young woman counter-sniper must push herself to the limits – of body and soul, fear and humanity. Told with immediacy, grace and harrowing emotional accuracy,

Steven Galloway. The cellist of Sarajevo / Atlantic Books / 9781843547419 

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