The Cellist of Sarajevo


Steven Galloway

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The Cellist of Sarajevo Characters

Arrow (Alisa)

A sniper for the Sarajevan Defense Corps, Arrow has “turned herself into a weapon” by taking a new name and focusing only on her mission to kill as many of the men attacking Sarajevo as… read analysis of Arrow (Alisa)


A middle-aged father who attempts to protect his family during the siege, Kenan’s mission during the novel is to get water for his household and for his elderly neighbor, Mrs. Ristovski. Kenan does not… read analysis of Kenan


An elderly bakery worker, Dragan has become emotionally closed-off as a way of protecting himself from the trauma of war. After sending his wife, Raza, and son, Davor, to live safely in Italy… read analysis of Dragan


Emina is an old friend of Dragan’s, who sees Dragan in the street and forces him to remember how life was in Sarajevo before the war. Emina has somehow remained optimistic during the siege… read analysis of Emina

Mrs. Ristovski

Kenan’s elderly neighbor, a prickly woman who lived through World War II. Kenan realizes that her difficult demeanor is the result of the loss and grief of war, though he still struggles to sympathize with… read analysis of Mrs. Ristovski
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Minor Characters
Nermin Filipović
Arrow’s commander. Since Nermin was friends with Arrow’s late father, he allows Arrow to maintain her sense of morality by choosing her targets. He eventually kills himself as the Sarajevo Defense Corps becomes more and more ruthless in their fight against the Bosnian Serbs.
Colonel Karaman
Arrow’s second commander, a far more ruthless man than Nermin Filipovic. Karaman cares only about winning the war, no matter what damage the army must do to Sarajevo and the ideals Sarajevo once stood for.
The spotter assigned to Arrow under the command of Colonel Karaman. He wants revenge against the enemy so badly he is willing to kill civilians.
Kenan’s wife.
Dragan’s wife who is living in Italy to escape the war.
Dragan’s 18 year-old son who has gone with his mother, Raza, to Italy so he can escape the war and the draft.
Kenan’s friend who works as a soldier but tries to escape the fighting whenever possible.
Emina’s husband.