Bosniak cellist

I am currently reading The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway for a book club I am looking into joining. I really knew nothing about the Bosnian War or the country itself before reading this book. After reading one character's description of how amazing the city was before the bombings, I decided to research it because I have never thought of Bosnia as beautiful.

Turns out Sarajevo has been listed as the 43rd best city in the world, hosted an Olympics and is gorgeous. I feel slightly close-minded and elitist to have assumed the worst of this place. There is a song by U2 about the war and tragedy that took place, Miss Sarajevo, and much more popular media about this country and its situation. I am so embarrassed that I have gone through life without knowing anything about it. I thought it was desertous, poor, and tried to start something. But it is beautiful, culturally and religiously rich and was attacked. I am ashamed of my ignorance.

I talked with Mr. Neruda about this and he said I should be angry at American public education for having glossed over it. Though they are at fault some, I think it would be wrong for me to blame them completely. I knew we were in a war there, something that touched our lives, and just never found out more about it. What kind of citizen am I to allow my country to be in a war I know nothing about. I was in single digits for most of it, but I was alive. There is really no good excuse here. I have learned a lesson and shall try to never wallow in such ignorance again!

I came across this picture:

There actually was a cellist in Sarajevo, Vedran Smailović, who would play at funerals for free even though they were major targets for the Serbs. Fascinating. The photo is of him playing in the ruined National Library during the war. I believe it is candid.


  1. Isn't it just about one of the most perfect books every written? I think when a novel manages to inspire you to do further research about a place or situation, then it has done far more good than any history book. Well done for investigating further and learning more about not only another country, but your own country's involvement. If we all did that from the novels we read, the world would be a better place.
    And I hadn't seen the photograph before - it's a great find.


  2. i fell in love with sarajevo after reading this book. i had only known about the war-torn aspect of it, not about all of the beauty.