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Inspired by Vedran Smailovic, the cellist who, in 1992, played in a bombed-out Sarajevo square for 22 days in memory of the 22 people who were killed by a mortar attack, this is a novel about four people trying to maintain a semblance of their humanity in the besieged city. Kenan trudges across the city to collect water from the brewery for his family; on his way to buy bread, Dragan meets an old friend who reminds him of life before the war; Arrow, a sniper fighting against the occupation, is charged with keeping the cellist alive; and the cellist himself, in his simple act of performing, courageously brings a touch of life back to the citizens. Although Galloway’s characters weigh the value of their lives against the choices they must make, he effectively creates a fifth character in the city itself, capturing the details among the rubble and destruction that give added weight to his memorable novel. --Elliot Mandel