Monday, July 27, 2009
The Cellist of Sarajevo
For such a small little book, this one sure packs a whammy. It takes place during the early 1990’s, during the Siege of Sarajevo, and shows us the impact the siege has on the lives of four different individuals.
The Cellist: The Cellist has vowed to play Albinoni’s Adagio every day for 22 days, in remembrance of 22 people killed by a mortar attack while waiting in line for bread. (Note: this character is based on Vedran Smailovic, who is not at all happy about this book.)
Arrow: a sniper in the army, Arrow is tasked with taking out the sniper who will likely target the Cellist. Used to the unique freedom of picking her own targets, this assignment is difficult for Arrow, who may soon find herself losing this small bit of control she counts on.
Dragan: an older man who was able to send his wife and son to safety before the city was locked down, Dragan struggles with his journey to work every day. As he walks the streets and crosses the bridges, he is always aware that he may be shot down by the snipers in the hills. The constant vigilance is beginning to affect him, however. Dragan is almost to the point of being incapacitated by the sound of gunfire.
The Cellist begins the story, and while everyone is aware of him, he is usually in the background. The book really focuses on Arrow, Dragan and Kenan. The stories take place over the course of a month, and alternate between the three characters. By the end of the novel, each has come to an important resolution. Despite the huge toll the siege has had on their lives, they each manage to wrestle back control...although not control in the sense of being in charge, more like they are determined not to let the siege turn them into people they are not. They all manage to transcend the war and emerge victorious in their own way.