Torontonians have been reading and discussing The Cellist of Sarajevo this month as part of TPL’s “One Book” program. The novel is set during the siege of Sarajevo when a cellist chose to play his cello in the street to mourn the deaths of 22 citizens shot while lining up to buy bread. It is, as Goodreads says, “about the endurance of the human spirit and the subtle ways individuals reclaim their humanity in a city ravaged by war.” (I loved the book, by the way, but I read it before I was adding books to my Goodreads bookshelves. Otherwise you’d see it with my 5-star rating there.)
The circumstances of the real life occurrence on which The Cellist of Sarajevo is based bear no resemblance to the circumstance that found Joshua Bell playing his violin in a Washington D.C metro station, and yet, when I heard TPL’s announcement of this year’s “One Book” title, I couldn’t help thinking that The Man with the Violin would make the perfect companion title — for those readers too young to take on Steven Galloway’s book, or for those readers who would simply appreciate another take on the theme of the effect music can have on individuals, especially music encountered in unexpected situations.