As reviewed by Glenn
Most of us in the western world haven’t experienced war first-hand. Our mass media distributes the manicured highlights of recent wars but truly understanding tragedy at this level is unfamiliar. Veterans returning from active conflicts may shed the most light on the horrors of war.
Though the book is a work of fiction, it is based upon actual events of the Siege of Sarajevo which began in 1992 and seeks to capture the depth of what it was like to live day by day in the conflict.
Three characters are in view throughout the story. Two are civilian, and the other military. The perspectives which each afford provide a haunting picture of the struggle. Galloway is skilfully able to align the reader with his characters to portray what considerations there are when the next step may be the last.
At the core of the story is a lone cellist who honours 22 fallen souls by playing his instrument amid the ruins of his destroyed city each day for 22 days. The danger is great, yet his resolve greater. This action speaks to where we may come to when hope is lost and the desire to live humanely is overwhelming.
Of course there is a sadness to the text. How can we read about war and not be moved? If we found ourselves in a similar calamity, do we know who we would be?
Steven Galloway is a Canadian novelist. Galloway was born in Vancouver, and raised in Kamloops, British Columbia. He attended the University College of the Cariboo and the University of British Columbia.