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“The Cellist of Sarajevo” Reading Raises Tough Questions For Springfield Students

Pat Kenney
Campus News Editor

What if this happened to my city? That is the question Steven Galloway asked himself while writing his 2008 novel, “The Cellist of Sarajevo.” Galloway read excerpts of his book on the campus of Springfield College on Wednesday, September 25.

Sarajevo is the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the site of the 1984 Winter Olympics. Surrounded by hills, the city was the site of the assassination of the Archduke of Austria, which ignited the First World War.

On April 5, 1992, the Army of Republika Srpska besieged Sarajevo during the Bosnia War (1992-1995). Vedran Smailovíc, a native of Sarajevo, became famous for playing his cello in ruined buildings during the siege of the city.

After a bombing left 22 citizens dead in the street, Smailovíc decided to go out into the streets and play Albinoni’s Adagio for 22 straight days in memory of his fallen friends and neighbors (one day for each victim). Unbeknownst to Smailovíc, his playing gained him worldly recognition and inspired many inside and outside Sarajevo to stand up and fight.

This cellist was the focal point of Galloway’s book, about the Siege of Sarajevo, and how civilization is a mask for basic human instinct.
Focusing in on three characters (Arrow, Kenan and Dragan), Galloway displays that survival and living comes down to three basic things: food, water and not getting killed.

What if this were to happen to Springfield? Would we be able to function without all the luxuries of modern civilization such as air conditioning, electricity and more?

Steven Galloway’s fictional telling of the longest siege in modern history makes readers realize that it’s not about what we have or what we need, its about our spirit and willingness to fight on even when it is out of our control.

What would you do if it were your city?

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