The Cellist of Sarajevo author Steven Galloway opens this fall’s Assembly Series

Cellist is this year's Freshman Reading Program selection

The Assembly Series opens at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12, in College Hall on the South 40 campus with Steven Galloway, author of The Cellist of Sarajevo, this year’s selection of WUSTL’s First Year Reading Program.

The Canadian author’s third novel is based on a real event that occurred in the beseiged eastern European city in the early 1990s as its citizens attempt to live their lives — and hold on to their humanity — under the daily threat of death.

The novel opens with the real-life story of 22 people who were murdered by snipers in full view of Vedran Smailovic, the principal cellist of the Sarajevo Symphony. In response to the tragedy, Smailovic vows to play Albononi’s Adagio every day for 22 days at the site of the carnage.


Galloway takes this real-life act of courage — this insistence on imposing humanity upon an inhumane situation — and builds a rich fictional narrative around it. The cellist’s genuine act of sorrow and remembrance galvanizes many around him, especially three characters at the center of the novel, and inspires them to regain their strength and dignity.

Galloway’s appearance continues a period of discussion for the incoming students. His talk will include a reading from the novel, published in 2008, and a question-and-answer session.

Galloway attended the University College of Cariboo in Kamloops, British Columbia, as well as the University of British Columbia, where he teaches creative writing.

This lecture also is being presented by the First Year Reading Program and the First Year Center.

This, and all Assembly Series programs are free and open to the public. However, some events may have limited public seating.

For more information on the Galloway presentation, visit the Assembly Series website: or call 314-935-4620.

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