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Saturday, 23 January 2016

Steven Galloway - Cellist of Sarajevo

review by showhost
In commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day the people in my radio show book review group each chose a book to read about a country included in the HMD leaflet.  One was the genocide in Sarajevo, so I chose this book which although fictional, the story of the cellist and other aspects are based on facts.
It isn't harrowing or gruelling it is more a snapshot into the daily lives of three of the people living in war torn, besieged Sarajevo, who are under constant sniper fir from the hills and mortar bomb attacks, over 300 a day.
The cellist, a local musician, played the same haunting tune every day for 22 days in the market square where 22 people lost their lives from mortar shelling, whilst queuing for bread.  The cellist was an open target for snipers but he survived possibly because of the protection of one of their own snipers who was acting like a guardian angel over him.
The three people we meet are Dagan, an elderly gentleman who's wife and child he managed to get out of the city and into the safety of Italy.  Dagan tries to dodge the snipers as he goes to the bakery where he works to get his wages of bread to feed himself, never knowing if the next bullet will be the one which finds him.
Arrow, a young girl now alone after the death of her father, who has been taught to shoot by her father and was working for the government in a very loose way.  She was a sniper with morals, she would decide if she shot anybody and who the person would be but this changed when the head of the army changes.
Kenan, who has a wife and child, has to go to the old brewery where the only fresh water supply still exists, and carry back six containers of water to last his family a week and also two containers for the old woman who lives downstairs, who he doesn't like but can't refuse.Each day he goes out he never knows if he will come back.
They watch their beloved city fall apart under constant fire and friends and family killed by sniper bullets, or mortar shells, remembering the city as it was.  It's their thoughts and feelings we read about. 
Arrow to me was the character I looked forward to reading about most.  A young girl who doesn't want to randomly kill as she knows that memory will live with her forever.

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