Wednesday 14 May 2008

Fascinating Fiction

Finished May 13
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
This story is about more than just the cellist of the title. It is about living in Sarajevo when it was a war zone, and how living in such an environment affects you. The cellist has made the decision to play his cello in the square where twenty-two people were killed by a shell while standing in line for bread. He plans to play each day for twenty-two days. He becomes a kind of symbol for the people of the city and a potential target for the attackers.
Arrow is a young woman, previously non-violent but trained in sharpshooting, who has been drafted to assist in the protection of the city by working as a sniper against the soldiers in the hills. She chooses her own targets and works alone until she is asked to protect the cellist against a sniper sent by the soldiers. Arrow has separated herself from her previous identity as a coping mechanism, but she may not always be able to go her own way.
Dragan is an man in his sixties who works in a bakery, a protected and vital job. He makes his way each day to the bakery through the dangerous streets of the city. He goes even when he doesn't work to get bread and to eat, saving the provisions at home for the rest of the family. He lives in fear of being killed.
Kenan is a married father with three children. Every four days he makes his way across the city to the brewery for water from the spring there. He must walk across most of the city and cross the river. Each trip he weighs his options as to which route to take, which bridge to cross and still could be taken by a shell or sniper. He also gets water for an elderly neighbour that he doesn't even particularly like.
As each of these three characters comes across the cellist, their story changes due to their awareness of what life in the city has become, and that is what makes the story here.
A wonderful and fascinating read.

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