Surviving—and living—under siege
What do you do when it’s dangerous to cross the street, but that’s where the safe drinking water is? And the larger question—how do you keep such uncertainties from rendering you a coward, a monster or a madman?
Steven Galloway’s street-level view of the siege of Sarajevo wisely ignores the geopolitics (which few outsiders understand anyhow) in favor of questions like these.
The novel begins with a cellist who sees 22 of his neighbors killed by a mortar shell while waiting to buy bread. He decides to play a serenade in their honor each afternoon, despite the likelihood of drawing fatal attention to himself.
The cellist’s spirit of ‘nevertheless’ penetrates the other characters as they go about their war-torn business. Especially striking is a sniper for the defense forces, who somehow makes life-affirming choices amid the mayhem and chaos.
Galloway’s tale isn’t sentimental, but it’s very beautiful.