Cellist of Sarajevo, The

Galloway, Steven

  16 Reviews

Sarajevo 1992, a bomb goes off in the street, interrupting a cellist who is practising Albinoni's Adagio. To honour the 22 people who die, he returns to the street each day for the next 22 days to play the Adagio. This event is the backdrop to the experience of the three narrators struggling to survive daily life in the besieged city. A sombre and powerful novel depicting the horror and futility of war tempered by the unquenchable human spirit.

Comments from Groups

One of our members brought along the 'Adagio' music and we listened to it as we discussed the book. Fabulous. New Plymouth 012

Very thought provoking. A realisation of the cruelty in the world ... Everybody felt the characters were well defined as was their struggle to survive. Napier 020

It was good to be reminded of the reality of living in a war zone. The characters were very real, yet the ideas they conveyed transcended the individual and became huge concepts we all have to grapple with. An excellent read. Masterton 003

A long and insightful discussion. Highly recommended. Christchurch 324

Everyone in the group thought this an excellent book, with its scarce language vividly portraying the various individuals' suffering. The reality of the conflict and the hopelessness of the situation for the residents of Sarajevo is apparent. Dunedin 007

This was a highly rated story amongst our readers. Google helped in finding the piece of music that the cellist played...Tauranga 015

Interesting and a challenge. Great insight into the daily life in a war torn city...Lots of discussion generated on how we would deal with a similiar situation. Auckland 280

Everyone got a lot from this book. Lively discussion, and research by some to learn more about this time in Sarajevo. The writing was so good-very spare, poetic almost, and conveyed so much in a few words...Nelson 007

An absolutely wonderful book. This would be our best `pick` of the year. It was written in a way that we could feel the experience of the characters. Wellington 029

Although everyone liked the book, most felt uncomfortable using the word `enjoyed`. Reading about war can be uncomfortable but this was easier as it did not glorify it and told the human story. It was interesting to see how each character kept their humanity. Dunedin 039

We all loved the book - it forced us all to do some research on the conflict. There were interesting observations made on the three main players, and their survival under the terrible conditions of everyday life. Auckland 265

We found it a beautiful and profound read, providing a picture of the futility of war and its impact on individuals, families and communities. The character of Arrow was more fully drawn, and we found it interesting the way she depersonalised the killing, by means of changing her name and various other strategies. Christchurch 319

Overall the book was well regarded by the group. Some people found the middle part a bit disjointed and would have preferred that the three main characters be linked to make a more cohesive story. Evocative and moving as regards the devastation and ruination of the war. Wellington 202



An informative read. Enjoyed by everyone. Challenging, in that the reader was taken to a war zone through the eyes of the resident characters.
The men enjoyed the book, especially the fictional character of the woman sniper!
HAVE 005
Everyone enjoyed the book despite the time and place the novel was set in. Our discussion bounced backwards and forwards between the horror of war with man's inhumanity, against the resilience people show if exposed to suffering and extreme stress and hardship.
Many of the group found this an unsettling read. The focus on the minutiae of what the characters needed to do for survival made the impact of the siege more real than an account of the politics would have.
This was a very polarising book. Some members loved it and others didn't like it at all. Very thought provoking though, and we had a very good discussion.
We had high expectations from the reviews and the book did not live up to them.
It was a challenge to read, but it was important to do so.
This was a wonderful strong book for our first venture into the Book Discussion Scheme after several years using a different format for our group. There was a lively discussion on compassion fatigue brought about by the style of news reports. We listened to the music, which prompted an interesting discussion on how art in its various forms lifts the human spirit.
NAP 023
Great book - we all enjoyed the interesting and thought provoking stories of the three characters. We also checked the cellist on the internet and found it amazing that he survived. It also made us aware of how the Bosnian conflict had almost passed us by!! We needed to look it up to find out more. Highly recommended book.
WANG 010
We use a "thumb vote" at the beginning of our meeting to rate the book. This got a 9/10 score and all completed reading the book! The reactions to this story produced words like appalled, disturbing, intriguing, emotional, tragic, shocking and realistic.
AUCK 255
Great book - we loved the different narrators. It's amazing how people retain hope in such challenging circumstances.
This book was enjoyed by all in the Book Club. Members had a lively discussion about it. We were impressed with the style, the written descriptions and the very graphic descriptions of war.
Well-written. A difficult story to tell. We played the music at the end of the discussion. Haunting.
One of our best books. Enjoyed by all ten of us. Great (and long) discussion.
AUCK 335
We loved this book, and it led to a really deep discussion about fear, compassion, resurrection and truth etc. It was brilliant and the questions were very good at helping us delve deeper.
CHCH 378
The group loved this book. It was a very descriptive read, beautifully written and the characters felt so real to us all.