Kerrie Mitchell
May 16, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Cellist of Sarajevo

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Steven Galloway
publisher
Riverhead
genre
War, Fiction

We gave it a B+

A stripped-down depiction of the siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s, The Cellist of Sarajevo follows a female sniper, a bakery worker, and a young father as they separately wander the once-idyllic city. Steven Galloway uses admirable restraint — the shelling of a crowded water station becomes all the more horrible. But the narrative falters with the title cellist, who plays daily in the street to commemorate victims of a mortar attack. Loosely based on a real figure from the Bosnian war, he’s a vague symbol of resolve — an inspiring idea but not nearly as compelling as Galloway’s other, richer characters. B+

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