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The #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and And the Mountains Echoed responds to the heartbreak of the current refugee crisis with this deeply moving, beautifully illustrated short work of fiction for people of all ages, all over the world.
"Intensely moving. . .Powerfully evocative of the plight in which displaced populations find themselves."– Kirkus, STARRED Review
"Hosseini's story, aimed at readers of all ages, does not dwell on nightmarish fates; instead, its emotional power flows from the love of a father for his son."– Publishers Weekly, STARRED BOX Review
A short, powerful, illustrated book written by beloved novelist Khaled Hosseini in response to the current refugee crisis, Sea Prayer is composed in the form of a letter, from a father to his son, on the eve of their journey. Watching over his sleeping son, the father reflects on the dangerous sea-crossing that lies before them. It is also a vivid portrait of their life in Homs, Syria, before the war, and of that city's swift transformation from a home into a deadly war zone.
Impelled to write this story by the haunting image of young Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed upon the beach in Turkey in September 2015, Hosseini hopes to pay tribute to the millions of families, like Kurdi's, who have been splintered and forced from home by war and persecution, and he will donate author proceeds from this book to the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) and The Khaled Hosseini Foundation to help fund lifesaving relief efforts to help refugees around the globe.
Khaled Hosseini is one of the most widely read writers in the world, with more than fifty-five million copies of his novels sold worldwide in more than seventy countries. Hosseini is also a Goodwill Envoy to the UNHCR, and the founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a nonprofit that provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
Hosseini (The Kite Runner) says he was compelled to write about the refugee crisis after seeing the photograph of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian who drowned off the coast of Turkey in 2015. Yet Hosseini's story, aimed at readers of all ages, does not dwell on nightmarish fates; instead, its emotional power flows from the love of a father for his son. Written as a letter, the father begins slowly, recalling for his son, Marwan, the beauty of the Syrian town of Homs as it once was ("We woke in the mornings/ to the stirring of olive trees in the breeze"), then describing the war that destroyed it ("First came the protests./ Then the siege"). Now Marwan and his family sit on a beach, waiting for a boat. The father reassures Marwan: "Hold my hand./ Nothing bad will happen." Inside, though, he is in turmoil: "These are only words... all I can think tonight is/ how deep the sea,/ and how vast, how indifferent." In Williams's loosely stroked ink-and-wash spreads, the corals and greens of the Syrian countryside give way to war's gray shadows and the sea's blue hues. Expansive views of sky and water both temper the text's emotional build and render the figures in them small and fragile. Together, the evocative illustrations and graceful, compelling prose make it clear that Marwan and his parents have no choice but to trust the sea. Ages 7 up.