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Publisher's Summary

This brilliant novel with universal resonance tells the story of three people trying to survive in a city rife with the extreme fear of desperate times, and of the sorrowing cellist who plays undaunted in their midst. 

One day a shell lands in a bread line and kills 22 people as the cellist watches from a window in his flat. He vows to sit in the hollow where the mortar fell and play Albinoni’s Adagio once a day for each of the 22 victims. The Adagio had been re-created from a fragment after the only extant score was firebombed in the Dresden Music Library, but the fact that it had been rebuilt by a different composer into something new and worthwhile gives the cellist hope. 

Meanwhile, Kenan steels himself for his weekly walk through the dangerous streets to collect water for his family on the other side of town, and Dragan, a man Kenan doesn’t know, tries to make his way towards the source of the free meal he knows is waiting. Both men are almost paralyzed with fear, uncertain when the next shot will land on the bridges or streets they must cross, unwilling to talk to their old friends of what life was once like before divisions were unleashed on their city. Then there is “Arrow”, the pseudonymous name of a gifted female sniper, who is asked to protect the cellist from a hidden shooter who is out to kill him as he plays his memorial to the victims. 

In this beautiful and unforgettable novel, Steven Galloway has taken an extraordinary, imaginative leap to create a story that speaks powerfully to the dignity and generosity of the human spirit under extraordinary duress.

©2008 Steven Galloway (P)2020 Knopf Canada

What the critics say

"Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo is a wonderful story, a tribute to the human spirit in the face of insanity." (Kevin Baker, author of Dreamland and Paradise Alley)

"A gripping story of Sarajevo under siege." (J. M. Coetzee) 

“Though the setting is the siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s, this gripping novel transcends time and place. It is a universal story, and a testimony to the struggle to find meaning, grace, and humanity, even amid the most unimaginable horrors.” (Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns)

What listeners say about The Cellist of Sarajevo

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Great novel!

Loved this novel. I listened while following along with my hard copy. I found a couple of spots in the hard copy that did not match or were completely left out of the audiobook. The fifth line of page 195; there is a full sentence that is missing from the audiobook. There is also another error...

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It Good Book

The speaker did a good job, The story was cool by having different main characters to fallow along.

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  • Richard Van Voris
  • 2020-04-02

inspiring perspective for our own time

I listened to this book during a COVID-19 quarantine . I was anxious and somewhat feeling sorry for myself and my family.
Then I learned what a real seige looks like and how other humans have dealt with it and I realised how incredibly lucky we are.
We may be running low on some things but snipers are not shooting at us when we go out to buy toilet paper in 2020.
This is a good book for story and character. It is a great book because it holds a mirror up to our own lives and gave me a perspective in which to view my own life today.
"Hold as it t'wer a mirror up to nature"