Novel Gathering



Hosting the gathering for The Cellist of Sarajevo can be done in two ways.  

First, make reservations at a Bosnian, Bosnia and Herzegovina or Mediterranean restaurant.  This cuisine uses lots of water and tons of natural flavorings.  The mainstays are tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, cucumbers, cabbage and zucchini; so healthy.  A few traditional dishes include,

Burek – meat filled pastry rolled into a spiral          

Kacamak – made with cornmeal and potatoes


Baklava – pastry with nuts and honey

Be sure to ask your server for help choosing authentic dishes and share!

If hosting at home stage an area at the front door or just inside the door with rocks and bricks from your garden.  If so inclined, smash a few of them and create the crater where the cellist played.  Have little bunches of dried up, even dead flowers lying there.  Take a stool and place an image of a cello on top and set inside this ruble. At the front door have milk jugs, pop bottles or other containers and tie them together with rope.  Keep the mood inside your home subdued.  Have the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra playing in the background.  This is available on iTunes but check out your local library for several types of cello music.  The best music would be Albinoni’s Adiagio in G minor.

Wherever you will have your book discussion, be sure to dim the lights.  If you do not have a dimmer switch be sure to bring in small lights and add a few candles to create the mood

If I am a guest for this novel gathering I am bringing a potted fern for my hostess but I will try not to be as irritable as Kenan’s neighbor Mrs. Ristovski. 

In the bathroom, have a shaving kit, razor, toothbrush and toothpaste lying on the vanity top.  Shut off the hot water and unscrew the light bulb. Your guests will be transported to Kenan’s bathroom in the heart of Sarajevo and experience what it is like to have neither.


There are many dishes you can serve at this book club.

- variety of breads in baskets sitting at your table

- pita and hummus

- pistachio-studded halva

- a big jug of water with plastic cups

- japrak, stuffed cabbage or grape leaves with beef and rice

 The novel makes references to food as well.  First, the explosion at the bakery and the fact Dragon is a baker; several ideas here.  Also when Mrs. Ristovski comes to meet Kenan and his family she insists on coffee being served on a silver tray.  Many of our characters talk about the price of foods such as apples, beans, potatoes, and onions, sugar and of course cigarettes (refer to page 56).  Arrow is often trading her cigarettes for food. She savors the chocolate she barters for and often eats rice, bread and weak tea for supper (page 195). Kenan makes a reference to his daughter wanting ice cream and the importance of her buying her own popcorn when on a date (page 210). If in season, have several bowls of cherries out for your guests. Finally on page 242 there is a touching exchange between Kenan and his wife where he is to pick up chocolate and two dozen eggs because she wants to bake a cake, a very large cake. 

In case you want to serve a cocktail we suggest a bottle of wine from the region or plum brandy. Check out your local wine store for Balkan Area specialties.


We hope these offer you some tasty food ideas.

If you would like some help with discussion questions go to our Boutique page for

The Cellist of Sarajevo Questions and Answers.


Good Luck

**The page numbers coincide with the VINTAGE CANADA EDITION 2009

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