When he published his 2003 debut The Kite Runner, author Khaled Hosseini was almost immediately heralded as an essential voice in contemporary literature, and quickly became one of America's most beloved novelists. Now, the award-winning and internationally bestselling writer is back with a brand new title fans won't want to miss: Sea Prayer, a short, illustrated book about the current refugee crisis. Though the format and style may be completely different from his three other novels, this unique new addition to Hosseini's library promises to be just as powerful as his previous work.
Scheduled to hit shelves this September from Riverhead Books, Sea Prayer addresses the ongoing refugee crisis currently affecting millions of families around the world. Hosseini was inspired to create this new work after seeing the now infamous image of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, the Syrian boy whose dead body was photographed washed up on the shores of Turkey in 2015. Written in the form of a letter to a son from his father, Sea Prayer chronicles the lives of a people not unlike the Kurdis: a family who is forced to flee their home in Syria in favor of the dangerous and often deadly journey across the ocean to an unknown place they hope can become their new home, or, at the very least, a temporary safe haven.
“Any new project from Khaled Hosseini is momentous. He is one of the most important writers of our time," Riverhead Editor in Chief and Hosseini’s editor Sarah McGrath said in a press release about Sea Prayer. "But this work is particularly poignant in its heartbreaking engagement with the refugee crisis. I believe this beautifully written, intensely moving story will be cherished by people of all ages, and all over the world.”
First released as a Guardian virtual film in Sept. 2017, the upcoming book features breathtaking illustrations from London-based artist Dan Williams. Prior to his collaboration with Hosseini, Williams has spent the last 25 years creating professional illustrations for various publications, including Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, and many others.
Sea Prayer marks is the fourth title from Hosseini, who is best known for his 2003 runaway bestseller The Kite Runner. All three of his previous works, which also include the internationally bestselling titles A Thousand Splendid Suns and And the Mountains Echoed, are set in or feature characters from Afghanistan, the author's birthplace. Sea Prayer marks a departure from this tradition, but for good reason. The short illustrated book is meant to draw readers' attention to many different parts of the world, and the families struggling to survive in them.
“We are living in the midst of a displacement crisis of enormous proportions," author Hosseini said of his new project in a press release. "Sea Prayer is an attempt to pay tribute to the millions of families, like Alan Kurdi’s, who have been splintered and forced from home by war and persecution.”
Not only will Sea Prayer help raise public awareness for a crisis that affects the entire global community, the the publication of the book will actually raise money, too. According to the press release announcing Sea Prayer's publication, Hosseini, who is also a goodwill ambassador, plans to donate author proceeds from his upcoming title to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Khaled Hosseini Foundation. In doing so, the author hopes to help raise the funds needed to save the lives of the displaced all over the world.
Scheduled for publication Sept. 18, the release of Sea Prayer will mark the third anniversary of Alan Kurdi's death.