Steven Galloway's novel is built around an actual event: a cellist's street performance to memorialize bombing deaths in the war-torn city. Galloway uses the impressions of three fictional characters to describe the siege of the city in the wake of Yugoslavia's disintegration.
His war is experienced on a human scale -- as Galloway examines the feelings of residents who live with the fear of random death every day. They try to maintain a grasp on their pre-war lives as they scramble for water and other necessities that are fast disappearing. And they try to keep hold of their pre-war moral code amid the frightening siege. Even a sniper struggles to maintain that personal code in choosing the people she shoots -- and those who are off-limits.
Fans of "The Hunger Games" will be especially drawn to the characterization of Arrow, a young woman who is an expert sniper. Like Katniss Everdeen, the main character of the Hunger Games series, the sniper has been reluctantly drawn into war. And, like Katniss, she fights to retain her humanity in the most inhumane conditions.
“I think it’s really exciting," Galloway said in a statement. "I’ve had some exposure to community reading programs, and it has been universally positive. As an author, it’s indescribable when people are using your book for larger conversations beyond whether or not they like it. I think it’s wonderful, and I look forward to visiting Maryland in the fall.”
The Maryland Humanities Council, sponsors the annual statewide read and there will be a full slate of activities across the state, including appearances by Gallloway, later this year.