Sea Prayer

Khaled Hosseini and illustrated by Dan Williams

“The skies spitting bombs. Starvation. Burials. There are all things you know now.”


I search and search my local Barnes and Noble for this book. I looked on all the displays and through the fiction section and couldn’t find. Why? I was looking for a novel. Sea Prayers is a short illustrated book. What it lacks in length, Sea Prayers makes up for in vivid watercolors.  The beautiful artwork enhances the powerful words.

Not joking, it will take you less than 10 minutes to read. Five if you don’t pause to look at the pictures. Because of this, Sea Prayers has received some negative feedback from readers. Sea Prayers is not a typical Hosseini read, but it falls in the same genre with the same messages. Hosseini writes about topics close to his heart. He delivers powerful messages to the reader and opens our minds to the world most of us don’t see. Sea Prayers does just that through prose and pictures. 

Sea Prayers is a letter from a father to his son. It is Hosseini response to the refugees crisis. In few words, we are told of a time before and after war. The time before, is a place you want to go visit. The illustrations are beautiful and painted in colors that invite you to jump in and explore. The time after war, the time of the father’s son, is drastically different. The vivd colors of life, like the people effected, were replaced with shades of gray, blue, green, and brown. In so many ways, Sea Prayers is a story you already know–from news coverage, I am Malala, and other of Hosseini’s novels Sea Prayers will read vaguely familiar. I encourage you to give it a read. Unlike most of Hosseini’s work, Sea Prayers can be read by a child or an adult. 

I was curious why Khaled Hosseini published a book so different from his others, you probably are too. With help from Google and the UN Refugee Agency webpage dedicated to this book, I learned Hosseini was inspired by three-year-old Alan Kurdi, a Syrian refugee, who drowned while trying to make it to safety. He was not the first nor the last to lose their life trying to make it across the Mediterranean sea. Below is a quote from the webpage.

Sea Prayer was first produced in collaboration with UNHCR and the Guardian as a virtual reality film released in September 2017. In September 2018 Sea Prayer was published in over 30 languages as a short story with illustrations by Dan Williams.  Proceeds from the sale of Sea Prayer will go to The Khaled Hosseini Foundation and UNHCR  to help fund life-saving support and build better futures for refugees around the world.

If you are not familiar with Hosseini’s work, start here. If you have read his other novels, you might not like this one- that’s fine. Don’t let the change in style keep you from checking this new read out. Remember you can always read a book for free through your local library or in a chair at your local bookstore. I recommend Sea Prayers to new and old Hosseini readers. 

Consider buying a copy because Hosseini will donate author proceeds to the UN Refugee Agency and the Khaled Hosseini Foundation to help refugees around the world.


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