The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
This is one of those books that I would have never heard of had it not been for our municipality coming up with a really cool campaign called - One Book One Calgary. The premise was "What would happen if an entire city read the same book?" The program was launched last month and there were cool events for people of all ages throughout the city. They had a launch with a fancy schmancy night with appies, and the author doing a talk, and then a performance by a local professional cellist. They had work shops with the author for teens, and book club discussions at various libraries across.. you get the idea.
So my family book club (which consists of my Mom, my two sisters, and two of my nieces) decided to all read it. Even though we did not make it to any of the events I have to say I am SO GLAD I picked it up!
Galloway's book takes place during the Bosnian conflict in the early 90's, when Sarajevo was under siege by rebel forces. It follows the story of three people as they try to cope with what is happening in their beautiful city.
There is ARROW, she is a sniper who deeply loathes the men in the hills, and struggles with who she has become as a human being....
And DRAGAN, a 65 year old husband and father whose wife and son fled to Italy. In the hopes that he can be reunited with them, he continues to slog through the day to day nightmare of survival in a war zone.
KENAN is the one I can most relate to. He is a young father with three children and a doting wife. It is his part of the story that most resonates with me in the shocking reality of... what would it REALLY BE LIKE if suddenly I woke up to find my city completely overrun by rebels and that we have no electricity or water? WHAT WOULD WE DO? His part of the story is told in incredible detail that makes you feel his jubilation when the light bulb flares to life for a moment while he is shaving, or the horror as he is witness to the carnage that he encounters while simply getting water.
the CELLIST... he is based on a real person, Vedran Smailovic, who played in ruined buildings during the siege. He specifically played Albinoni Adagio in G, which happens to be a real rip-your-hear-out kind of piece... just beautiful.
(Photo is of Smailovic playing during the war)
This story takes us into modern warfare... takes us into the lives of three people who love their city and yearn for the return to normal life... the fear that normal will never be... and within its pages it shows us how as human beings we all are heroes and cowards, and until we walk in the shoes of war, we will never know which of these we are.