The Cellist of Sarajevo is Galloway’s, a teacher of creative writing at the University of British Colombia, third novel, and deals with the siege of Sarajevo during the Balkan Civil War. Based on true events from the war, the book is still a work of fiction and makes no claim that whatever is written is a description of actual events.
On August 25, 1992, Serb forces started shelling the National Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ending with it being burned to the ground. A huge number of rare books, priceless manuscripts and a large collection of Bosnian serial publications were lost. The Sarajevo Fire Department found itself under constant fire when trying to put the flames out and only a small number of books and publications managed to be saved. At least one person died, killed by sniper fire, when trying to save some of the books. Continue reading →
I read Sarajevo Marlboro by Miljenko Jergovic in April 2015
As an avid reader, I will also post book reviews on my blog, usually connected with places I have been or places I am planning to go. Reading books about places where I am traveling I have found to be of great value. Learning about a city or country through its literature I find greatly rewarding, both before I go and after I return.
My first book review will be of Sarajevo Marlboro, set in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war.
Walking around Sarajevo, every now and then you come across patterns of red marking on the ground. Holes in the asphalt, covered with red resin. Usually shaped in a semi-circular pattern, often looking like a rose.
I visited bascarsija in Sarajevo in March and April 2015
Bascarsija (I never managed to pronounce the name properly on my trip), lies in the old town of Sarajevo. It is an old Ottoman market, and dating back to the 15th century, it is as old as the city itself.
I visited the Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum in April, 2015
The Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum
‘Fuck war! FUCK WAR!’ The driver yelled. ‘War only good for criminals and for crazy people. Fuck war! Fuck!’ He was becoming louder and louder, gesturing so much his hands barely touched the steering wheel any more. He continued. ‘Fuck we should do instead. Not war. Fuck! Yes. I tell you. We should fuck! Fuck beautiful women! I know. War is bad, very bad. Sex is good, very good.’ He gradually calmed down. Gave a little laugh before continuing on his story.
Today, after first going to the War Tunnel Museum I visited Vrelo Bosne, the spring of the river Bosna, located in a beautiful park just outside Sarajevo. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, the park was amazing.
The following game of chess in Sarajevo happened in April, 2015
I play a little chess myself, and when I read about the daily chess games between old men in Sarajevo, I knew I had to have a look. It wasn’t hard to find, I could hear loud discussions from far away.
The chess players
At first it was hard to tell who were playing and who only were watching. The spectators took an active involvement in the game, sometimes even stepping in and doing the moves for the players. Doing a bad move was certainly unacceptable and the player could quickly find himself overruled.
Taking the bus from Sarajevo to Mostar gave me a chance to see some of Bosnia’s nature. Its mountains, rivers, valleys and villages. The Bosnian countryside really is beautiful. We rode through quaint little villages, over beautiful fields, over steep mountain passes and along scenic valleys. The bus ride took a few hours giving me plenty of time to enjoy the view.
I took the bus from Sarajevo in the morning, arriving at Mostar in time for lunch. On the way to Mostar it was plenty of space on the bus. On the return journey it was packed.
Most of my time was spent staring out the window, the views were magnificent. Wishing I could kep them forever, I kept snapping pictures, but it is just not the same. Next time I want to rent a car and drive through the country, giving me a chance to stop at some of the places.
This evening, my excellent guide took me first to Avaz Twist Tower for a superb birds eye view of Sarajevo, then to the revolving restaurant on top of Radon Plaza for a great meal. Recommended for any visitor to Sarajevo! The view from the tower is great, you can see the whole city of Sarajevo, and the food at Radon Plaza was excellent. Here are some pictures from my evening.