Cultural Book Review

Sea Prayer

Riverhead Books | ISBN 978 0525539094


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 up on 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, Author

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.

Dan Williams is a London-based artist whose illustrations accompanied an extract of A Thousand Splendid Suns in The Guardian when it was first published. His work has also appeared in National Geographic, Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications.

Dan Williams, Illustrator


A heart-wrenching and loving short story, especially when shared between parent and child. As a parent, there is a real fear of not being able to keep a child safe, to keep the promise of the protector. A feeling of dishonesty follows, forming a lump in your throat. Such are the feelings of parents and families fleeing war, persecution, despair.

With the “hope to spark compassion and much needed conversation” Hosseini has touched on feelings with which adult readers may be able to identify and initiate an awareness, understanding, and respect for refugees and immigrants.

Dan Williams’ illustrations are beautifully somber, yet warm, and at times, the little bit of bright color enhance the hopeful words that it accompanies.

Sea Prayer, a whisper of hope and “kinder things”.

Teresa CarbajalRavet

Written by

Chief Culturist at SV Cultural Hub | Cultural Communication | Mothering 5 Bicultural Souls

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