Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Book Lovers Ball Interview Series, with Steven Galloway

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Steven Galloway

It's almost time for the Book Lover's Ball! In just two days, more than 50 of Canada's best-loved writers will gather at the Royal York Hotel as part of a fundraiser for the Toronto Public Library.

As the gala approaches, we're talking to several guest authors to get the inside scoop on the books, the readers and the black tie looks.

Today we speak with Steven Galloway, author of the critically acclaimed bestseller The Cellist of Sarajevo (Vintage Canada). In April, Steven's widely anticipated new book The Confabulist will be published.

Stay tuned for more interviews with guest authors from the Book Lover's Ball!

Open Book:

This year the Book Lovers Ball features entertainment that brings books to life on stage. Tell us a bit about your most recent book.

Steven Galloway:

My most recent book is The Cellist of Sarajevo. One day a shell lands in a bread line and kills twenty-two people as the cellist watches from a window in his flat. He vows to sit in the hollow where the mortar fell and play Albinoni’s Adagio once a day for each of the twenty-two victims. The Adagio had been re-created from a fragment after the only extant score was firebombed in the Dresden Music Library, but the fact that it had been rebuilt by a different composer into something new and worthwhile gives the cellist hope.

Meanwhile, Kenan steels himself for his weekly walk through the dangerous streets to collect water for his family on the other side of town, and Dragan, a man Kenan doesn’t know, tries to make his way towards the source of the free meal he knows is waiting. Both men are almost paralyzed with fear, uncertain when the next shot will land on the bridges or streets they must cross, unwilling to talk to their old friends of what life was once like before divisions were unleashed on their city. Then there is “Arrow,” the pseudonymous name of a gifted female sniper, who is asked to protect the cellist from a hidden shooter who is out to kill him as he plays his memorial to the victims.


What will you be wearing to the gala?


Formal attire. Something black and slimming. In my pocket I will have some money and a hotel room key, but will leave the rest of my wallet at home so as to leave the flow of my trousers undisturbed. I shall brush my teeth, shave and moisturize my T-zone.


This event raises funds for the Toronto Public Library system, one of the busiest urban library systems in the world. What do you see as a library's role in the city? What has your own experience of libraries been like?


Libraries are more than just a place to store books, they are a place where the conversation that defines civilization takes place. My experience with libraries has been profound and surprising. I’m always amazed by the ways that libraries and librarians find to interact with citizens. It’s very inspiring.


One of the unique things about the Book Lovers Ball is how it allows avid readers to meet some of their favourite writers. With what Canadian writer, living or dead, would you most like to sit at dinner? What might you ask him or her?


I would like to sit next to Roberston Davies. I would be way too intimidated to ask him anything, but I might try to touch his beard if he turned his head away from me for long enough. He had a very admirable beard.

Steven Galloway is the author of Finnie Walsh, Ascension and The Cellist of Sarajevo. He teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia, and lives with his wife and two young daughters in Vancouver, British Columbia.

For more information about The Cellist of Sarajevo please visit the Random House Canada website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

For more information about the Book Lover's Ball, please visit their website.

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