Synopses & Reviews
A spare and haunting, wise and beautiful novel about the endurance of the human spirit and the subtle ways individuals reclaim their humanity in a city ravaged by war.
In a city under siege, four people whose lives have been upended are ultimately reminded of what it is to be human. From his window, a musician sees twenty-two of his friends and neighbors waiting in a breadline. Then, in a flash, they are killed by a mortar attack. In an act of defiance, the man picks up his cello and decides to play at the site of the shelling for twenty-two days, honoring their memory. Elsewhere, a young man leaves home to collect drinking water for his family and, in the face of danger, must weigh the value of generosity against selfish survivalism. A third man, older, sets off in search of bread and distraction and instead runs into a long-ago friend who reminds him of the city he thought he had lost, and the man he once was. As both men are drawn into the orbit of cello music, a fourth character a young woman, a sniper holds the fate of the cellist in her hands. As she protects him with her life, her own army prepares to challenge the kind of person she has become.
A novel of great intensity and power, and inspired by a true story, The Cellist of Sarajevo poignantly explores how war can change one's definition of humanity, the effect of music on our emotional endurance, and how a romance with the rituals of daily life can itself be a form of resistance.
"Canadian Galloway (Ascension) delivers a tense and haunting novel following four people trying to survive war-torn Sarajevo. After a mortar attack kills 22 people waiting in line to buy bread, an unnamed cellist vows to play at the point of impact for 22 days. Meanwhile, Arrow, a young woman sniper, picks off soldiers; Kenan makes a dangerous trek to get water for his family; and Dragan, who sent his wife and son out of the city at the start of the war, works at a bakery and trades bread in exchange for shelter. Arrow's assigned to protect the cellist, but when she's eventually ordered to commit a different kind of killing, she must decide who she is and why she kills. Dragan believes he can protect himself through isolation, but that changes when he runs into a friend of his wife's attempting to cross a street targeted by snipers. Kenan is repeatedly challenged by his fear and a cantankerous neighbor. All the while, the cellist continues to play. With wonderfully drawn characters and a stripped-down narrative, Galloway brings to life a distant conflict." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Steven Galloway's The Cellist of Sarajevo is a wonderful story, a tribute to the human spirit in the face of insanity." Kevin Baker, author of Dreamland and Paradise Alley
"Through the perilous journeys that Kenan and Dragan undertake across the strife-torn city, Galloway gifts us valuable insights into how compassion can blossom, unexpectedly, during mindless atrocities....[An] accomplished, important work." Chicago Sun-Times
"I cannot imagine a lovelier, more beautifully wrought book about the depravity of war as The Cellist of Sarajevo. Each chapter is a brief glimpse at yet another aspect of the mind, the heart, the soul altogether Galloway gives us fine, deep notes of human music which will remain long after the final page." Z. Z. Packer, author of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
"A grand and powerful novel about how people retain or reclaim their humanity when they are under extreme duress." Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi
"A gripping story of Sarajevo under siege." J. M. Coetzee, author of Disgrace and Diary of a Bad Year
"Indelible imagery and heartbreaking characters give authority to this chilling story and make human a crisis typically overlooked in literature." Kirkus Reviews
"Although Galloway's characters weigh the value of their lives against the choices they must make, he effectively creates a fifth character in the city itself, capturing the details among the rubble and destruction that give added weight to his memorable novel." Booklist
“An exquisite novel of war and loss...The book feels vividly created...an elegant and ever fragile work of art.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine
—Los Angeles Times
“Indelible imagery and heartbreaking characters.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Tense and haunting.”
“Though the setting is the siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s, this gripping novel transcends time and place. It is a universal story, and a testimony to the struggle to find meaning, grace, and humanity, even amid the most unimaginable horrors.” —Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns
“I cannot imagine a lovelier, more beautifully wrought book about the depravity of war as The Cellist of Sarajevo. Each chapter is a brief glimpse at yet another aspect of the mind, the heart, the soul—altogether Galloway gives us fine, deep notes of human music which will remain long after the final page.” —ZZ Packer, author of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
“A grand and powerful novel about how people retain or reclaim their humanity when they are under extreme duress.” —Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi
“A gripping story of Sarajevo under siege.” —J. M. Coetzee, author of Disgrace and Diary of a Bad Year
“Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo is a wonderful story, a tribute to the human spirit in the face of insanity.” —Kevin Baker, author of Dreamland and Paradise Alley
"In this darkly fanciful take on the Houdini legend . . . the magician's life is recounted through the damaged memory of the fan who killed him with a punch to the stomach in 1926. . . . [Galloway's] his explorations of the relationships between truth and illusion, fiction and reality, need and conscience are stimulating and affecting. . . . An entertaining fictional reflection on the 20th century's most famous magician."—Kirkus
"A brilliant novel, and one that virtually demands multiple readings to pick up all the subtleties (especially concerning the end of the book, and enough said about that)."—Booklist (starred)
“The Confabulist is a historical novel that is more relevant than ever today. What begins as a playful, mind-teasing mystery about Harry Houdini, the greatest magician who ever lived, turns subtly, brilliantly into a beautiful elegy on love and loss, identity and self-deception. Galloway, who is fast emerging as one of our finest young writers, has produced another novel to linger over, read and re-read, in order to glean all that it has to offer.”—Kevin Baker, author of The Big Crowd
Praise for The Confabulist
“A beautifully wrought novel about the grip of illusion and the way we tell ourselves stories to seek redemption, or forgiveness at the very least.” —The Washington Post
“Galloways story has a big trick up its sleeve, but his talent is no illusion.” —More
“Fabulous . . . A page-turner youll want to read twice.” —Readers Digest
“A brilliant novel, and one that virtually demands multiple readings to pick up all the subtleties (especially concerning the end of the book, and enough said about that).” —Booklist (starred review)
The acclaimed and inspiring international bestseller that is a tribute to the human spirit.
In a city ravaged by war, a musician plays his cello for twenty-two days at the site of a mortar attack, in memory of the fallen. Among the strangers drawn into the orbit of his music are a young father in search of water for his family, an older man in search of the humanity he once knew, and a young woman, a sniper, who will decide the fate of the cellist?and the kind of person she wants to be.
From the bestselling author of The Cellist of Sarajevo, a darkly fanciful, beautifully wrought novel of magic, intrigue, and illusion.
What is real and what is an illusion? Can you trust your memory to provide an accurate record of what has happened in your life?
The Confabulist is a clever, entertaining, and suspenseful narrative that weaves together the rise and fall of world-famous Harry Houdini with the surprising story of Martin Strauss, an unknown man whose fate seems forever tied to the magicians in a way that will ultimately startle and amaze. It is at once a vivid portrait of an alluring, late-nineteenth/early-twentieth-century world; a front-row seat to a world-class magic show; and an unexpected love story. In the end, the book is a kind of magic trick in itself: There is much more to Martin than meets the eye.
Historically rich and ingeniously told, this is a novel about magic and memory, truth and illusion, and the ways that love, hope, grief, and imagination canfor better or for worsealter what we perceive and believe.
About the Author
Steven Galloway lives in British Columbia and teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of the novels The Cellist of Sarajevo, which was an IndieBound and a Barnes and Noble Discover selection and has been chosen for community reads across the country, and The Confabulist.