This novel has such powerful images. The horrors that occurred during the siege of Sarajevo and what people went through on a daily basis just to get around in the city are vividly depicted in this wonderful book. And ironically, the cellist is not really even a main character even though he is the subject of the title. He is basically peripheral to the actions of two of the main characters, Kenan and Dragan. Arrow is the only character whose story is directly related to the cellist.
Everything in this novel happens in a few short days, but you can understand how the characters feel as if the war will never end. They have gotten to the point where they can hardly remember the way life used to be. But the cellist and his music make them, just for a few minutes, see the city as it was or as it would be if the war was not happening.
Steven Galloway has a wonderful way with words that evoke powerful emotions as you read. When Arrow is given the assignment to protect the cellist from a sniper, she goes down to the crater the cellist will sit and play in later in the day. She's thinking about how random it was that the people were killed as they were in line to buy bread. If one did not need to buy bread that day, they would not have been there and died. Galloway writes "This is how she now believes life happens. One small thing at a time. A series of inconsequential junctions, any or none of which can lead to salvation or disaster. There are no grand moments where a person does or does not perform the act that defines their humanity. There are only moments that appear, briefly, to be this way." Wow, that is amazing.
This book is so well written and worth reading. I was an adult during the years of this siege and don't remember that the news stories made that much of an impression on me. Of course I thought the killings going on were terrible, but I can honestly say it didn't touch me personally that much. After reading TCoS, I want to know more about why this war occurred in the first place. What made the men in the hills kill all those people.