Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Steven Galloway's The Cellist of Sarajevo. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Cellist of Sarajevo: Introduction
The Cellist of Sarajevo: Plot Summary
The Cellist of Sarajevo: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Cellist of Sarajevo: Themes
The Cellist of Sarajevo: Quotes
The Cellist of Sarajevo: Characters
The Cellist of Sarajevo: Symbols
The Cellist of Sarajevo: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Steven Galloway
Historical Context of The Cellist of Sarajevo
Other Books Related to The Cellist of Sarajevo
- Full Title: The Cellist of Sarajevo
- When Written: 2002-2008
- When Published: 2008
- Literary Period: Contemporary
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Setting: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Climax: Arrow decides to defect from the Sarajevo militia, Dragan drags a man’s body out of the street to protect the dignity of the dead and preserve the image of Sarajevo, and Kenan decides to go back into a risky part of town to help his neighbor get water—all inspired by the cellist’s music.
- Antagonist: The Bosnian Civil War, hatred, hopelessness
- Point of View: 3rd person omniscient
Extra Credit for The Cellist of Sarajevo
The Real Cellist of Sarajevo. Galloway’s cellist was inspired by the real Sarajevan cellist Vedran Smailović, who played Albinoni’s Adagio for 22 days to commemorate those who were killed when a mortar shell hit a crowded market square. Smailović was not contacted or consulted as Galloway wrote this book, a fact which initially angered Smailović as he felt that Galloway was taking advantage of his life story. Galloway insists that he only meant to honor Smailović and did not mean to steal anything. The two men met in 2012 to smooth over this conflict.
A Fictional Bosnia. Galloway initially considered setting his novel in a nameless, fictional city. Doing so would have freed him to explore the themes of civilians in war and the place of art and culture without the added pressure of researching the real city of Sarajevo when the wounds of the war were still so fresh for the survivors. However, Galloway rejected that idea as making the novel “too universal,” and kept the cellist in Sarajevo to give the book a concrete connection to the real world and the real experience of the Bosnian War specifically.