The Cellist


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A sniper with conscious, with a soul in her. It is a a world of danger, the author does a very good job explaining and showing that. No food, no water, people are killed on the street, hate and destruction are everywhere, and the future looks as bad as the present. I had a bit hard time with the narration, and I didn't like the structure which follows three different people, three points of view. And even though the storyline itself is quite good, it was not engaging and the characters not easy to relate to.

I think it is mostly because of the writing and with a skilled author could work much better.

This is a gorgeous, haunting book set in war torn Sarajevo in the mid s, as the title implies. It's about so many things - the will to survive, making choices, and determining who you are underneath the trappings of civility, especially as they are stripped away with violence.

Its about finding pleasure in small luxuries such as having electricity or seeing your children smile. Its about deciding what is moral. One line I think sums my feelings about this book rather nicely - its from later This is a gorgeous, haunting book set in war torn Sarajevo in the mid s, as the title implies.

One line I think sums my feelings about this book rather nicely - its from later in the book when a character decides he cannot leave a stranger lying in the street to be filmed by a cameraman for foreign tv View all 4 comments. Aug 11, Annalisa rated it really liked it Recommended to Annalisa by: Jeana.


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Shelves: historical-fiction , literary. My favorite part of this book was the discussion of Sarajevo's role in starting the first World War with an assassination. It isn't clear to him how the world will think of the city now that thousands have been murdered. He suspects that what the world wants most is not to think of it all. And honestly, I didn't know, or at least had forgotten, about Sarajevo's role in WWI, be My favorite part of this book was the discussion of Sarajevo's role in starting the first World War with an assassination.

And honestly, I didn't know, or at least had forgotten, about Sarajevo's role in WWI, because when I think of Sarajevo, I do think of murder and a time the world didn't want to think about them as it collectively held its breath and waited for the shooting to be over. Just like with Warsaw, I want to think about the rich culture and beauty that was destroyed, but my mind automatically goes to the worst of it.

Why is it that it's always the worst moments that defines us? The Cellist of Sarajevo gives us a picture of four people stuck in Sarajevo during the siege. One stuck for hours at an intersection targeted by a sniper as he tries to head to the bakery where he works for a meal.

Another risking his life to race through intersections and across bridges to get water for his family, both of them hoping they would not be the ones targeted by snipers. One is a fictional account of the cellist who played out in the open for twenty-two days in honor of twenty-two victims of one attack. And my favorite voice, a female sniper with a sixth sense, trying to understand her hatred and how it differed from the men on the hill killing them. The other voices were just glimpses, but hers we really get inside her head so I could feel for her and root for her. Other than the glimpses in the media of brutality in the streets, this was my first glimpse into the real Sarajevo and the fear of its citizens trapped inside.

And it's told beautifully. I held out hope for this novel because many have raved about it. But, meh I'll say that Galloway has beautiful, lyrical prose, so the novel has that going for it. He was able to show the repetitiousness of war; there is constant shelling, constant bombing, constant fear for your life, etc. Outside of that, it really didn't get to me like it did some people. I didn't enjoy the structuring. The three narrative structure felt a little contrived, in an effort to lay down some 3 Stars, rounded up. The three narrative structure felt a little contrived, in an effort to lay down some sense of anticipation for the ending.

It announced, "You're going to have to read until the very last page to see who lives and dies," and it was like, ugh, where's the fun in that? The story would have been more powerful if one of the three died earlier in my opinion; however, given the structure, you knew that wasn't going to happen, because Galloway doesn't deviate from the beat of the novel. For all the story was trying to do to showcase the tragedies of war, it kind of flopped on that. Sure, countless civilians died in this siege, which is tragic, but the three main characters pull through because they're all deeply moved by the Cellist.

Early on, I realised that was likely to happen, and here's why I didn't like that Perhaps I'm stretching this, but to me it was a God metaphor.

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The Cellist of Sarajevo

The cellist is God, the trio in the novel are those arrogant people who thank God for their very survival and existence, whereas the rest of the civilians, being slain by the constant shelling and explosions, are the suckers on whom God apparently turned his back. Meanwhile, if you didn't stop and listen to the music or continue to listen to it long after the Cellist left you fell victim to the violence.

It was kind of an insult to the thousands of others who were not spared. I think this is why I felt detached to the characters. You see this kind of delusion in real life whenever tragedies occur, and it's always upsetting for me to see. Further, I didn't believe the characters were in any real danger throughout the novel. I didn't wonder if they might not make it at some point. Sure, in the end, we're left to wonder what happened to Arrow, but she was the least realistic character for me. Arrow's existence in the novel seemed like a weak attempt to confuse the reader over who the real hero is - is it the Cellist?

NPR Choice page

Is it Arrow? Is it perhaps even Dragan or Kenan? It's obvious Galloway felt the Cellist is the saviour here, but he tried not to make that too obvious, so he created Arrow to look over the Cellist, a guardian of sorts, so that another reader might see her as the ultimate hero. I'm probably bitter because I don't feel this story was done justice. This was a real life event that happened in Sarajevo, a city with a magnificent history, and the novel didn't capture that for me.

Angry shake of fist! One positive thing, I learned a lot about the history of Sarajevo; not from the novel, but because I became curious and did my own research. View all 3 comments. Feb 04, Kathleen rated it really liked it Shelves: challenges , art , history , music. In beautiful, simple sentences, Steven Galloway tells an incredibly moving story of four individuals, acting and reacting while the city of Sarajevo is under siege.

Steven Galloway and the lessons of The Cellist of Sarajevo

These scenes are breathtakingly beautiful and made me rea In beautiful, simple sentences, Steven Galloway tells an incredibly moving story of four individuals, acting and reacting while the city of Sarajevo is under siege. These scenes are breathtakingly beautiful and made me realize the power of art in a distressing world. In the midst of inhumanity, there is still beauty, still humanity, and this book sheds light on that humanity.

It serves as an important reminder to appreciate the things that we have, and not take them for granted. It also makes you think about what each of us might be required to do when the civilization we count on is threatened. It needs to be built constantly; re-created daily.

READERS GUIDE

It vanishes far more quickly than he ever would have thought possible. In , twenty-two people were killed by mortar shells as they stood in a bread line in a town square during the Siege of Sarajevo. In honor of the deceased, a local cellist who had witnessed the attack played Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor at the site daily for twenty-two days. It is a bit of beauty at a scene of devastation. This fictional book is inspired by this true event in Sarajevo. The book also tells the stories of three other characters trying to survive the devastation.

MORE BY STEVEN GALLOWAY

Sarajevo is surr In , twenty-two people were killed by mortar shells as they stood in a bread line in a town square during the Siege of Sarajevo. Sarajevo is surrounded by hills, and the Serb soldiers shell the homes below, and target the civilians as they move through the city. Every four days, Kenan risks his life trying to cross the bridges to fill containers with spring water for his family and an elderly neighbor. Dragan must travel dangerous roads to get to the bakery to work and bring bread home to feed his sister's family.

Both men were witnesses to the deaths of others who got picked off by the soldiers. Arrow, a female expert sniper from Sarajevo, has the task of protecting the cellist from an enemy sniper attack. She is trying to hold on to her human goodness while defending her city. This moving story shows the senselessness of war, and the effect that violence, fear, and destruction has on each of the characters.

Sep 17, Sharon rated it really liked it. What a beautiful book! Normally when I listen to an audiobook, I speed up the narration to 1. Speeding up the narration by Gareth Armstrong would have been blasphemous: he sounded like Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey! Narration aside, the book was straightforward and beautiful; the writing style reminded me of Ishiguro's "The Remains of the Day.

During each character's story, they are influenced by a cellist who has vowed to take to the streets to play his Adagio for 22 days straight, in honor of 22 men who were mortared while standing in line for bread. There's some controversy surrounding this book: the cellist in the novel was inspired by a real man, Vedran Smailovic, who was all sorts of bent when he discovered a book had been written about him without his consent.

The Cello Song - (Bach is back with 7 more cellos) - The Piano Guys

Plenty has been written about this online; my feeling is that Smailovic was enough of a public figure that he must've inspired many artists. Jan 05, Bonnie rated it it was amazing Shelves: recommended , canadian-author , reviewed-books.

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