Sea Prayer

"Dive into the emotional depths of 'Sea Prayer,' a gripping novella by Khaled Hosseini. Explore the poignant journey of a father and son escaping war-torn Syria, beautifully depicted in words and illustrations. Discover the power of empathy and resilience in this compelling tale of humanity. A must-read literary masterpiece."
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Khaled Hosseini
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“Sea Prayer” is a poignant and evocative book written by the acclaimed Afghan-American author, Khaled Hosseini. Known for his powerful storytelling, Hosseini takes readers on an emotional journey through this illustrated novella that explores the themes of displacement, loss, and the enduring human spirit.

Published in 2018, “Sea Prayer” is a departure from Hosseini’s previous novels like “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns.” Instead of a full-length novel, this work is a short, illustrated story that weaves together the power of words and visuals to deliver a profound message.


The narrative unfolds as a father reflects on his life, particularly his journey from a peaceful past to the turbulent present. Set against the backdrop of the Syrian refugee crisis, the story is written as a letter from a father to his son, Marwan, on the eve of their perilous sea journey to escape war-torn Syria. The father shares memories of a time when their hometown was filled with laughter, love, and the simple joys of life, contrasting sharply with the stark reality they face now.

As the father recounts their shared history, he poignantly captures the tragedy and desperation of those forced to leave their homes in search of safety. The illustrations by Dan Williams complement Hosseini’s words, depicting the harrowing journey of refugees on overcrowded boats, braving the treacherous seas in pursuit of a better life.

Through the father’s heartfelt letter, readers are confronted with the harsh realities of displacement and the profound impact it has on families. “Sea Prayer” serves as a call to empathy and understanding, urging readers to recognize the shared humanity that transcends borders and circumstances.


“Sea Prayer” has received widespread acclaim for its emotional depth, lyrical prose, and the seamless integration of illustrations. Critics and readers alike have praised Khaled Hosseini for his ability to capture the human experience in the face of adversity. The book’s brevity, coupled with its powerful narrative and evocative imagery, has left a lasting impression on many.

The New York Times Book Review commended the book, stating, “Hosseini’s poetic prose and Williams’s evocative illustrations combine to create a deeply moving reading experience. ‘Sea Prayer’ is a testament to the enduring power of storytelling.”

Similarly, The Guardian described the novella as “a haunting and beautifully crafted exploration of the refugee crisis.” The review highlighted the book’s ability to convey complex emotions with simplicity, making it accessible and impactful for a wide range of readers.


“Sea Prayer” is filled with poignant quotes that resonate with readers long after they put the book down. Here are a few notable quotes from the novella:

“I have heard that we are the uninvited. We are the unwelcome. We should take our misfortune elsewhere. But I hear your mother’s voice, over the tide. We are here, my children, we are here.”

“You see the boat speeding toward you, no more than a dark, overgrown dot in the sea’s dazzle, but it is getting closer, and you see it is packed with people. And you see that it moves too quickly, that the waves it creates are unnatural, and you understand what is happening a moment before the boat thunders past you, the glassy red hull only inches away.”

“I will sleep a little and think less and pray more and hold her in the quiet of my heart, safe as she was in my arms the day we left home.”


Q ; Is “Sea Prayer” based on a true story?
A ; While “Sea Prayer” is a work of fiction, it draws inspiration from the very real and tragic experiences of refugees, particularly those affected by the Syrian conflict. Khaled Hosseini has spoken about his motivation to bring attention to the refugee crisis and humanize the individuals and families impacted by displacement.

Q : Why did Khaled Hosseini choose to write a short, illustrated novella?
A : “Sea Prayer” marks a departure from Hosseini’s previous novels in terms of format. The author chose this approach to amplify the emotional impact of the narrative. The combination of powerful prose and evocative illustrations allows for a more immediate and visceral connection with the story, making it accessible to a broad audience.

Q : How have readers responded to “Sea Prayer”?
A : Readers have overwhelmingly praised “Sea Prayer” for its emotional resonance and the beauty of its storytelling. Many appreciate the brevity of the novella, which allows for a quick yet impactful reading experience. The book has sparked conversations about empathy, compassion, and the global refugee crisis, prompting readers to reflect on their own perspectives and understanding of these issues.

In conclusion, “Sea Prayer” stands as a testament to Khaled Hosseini’s storytelling prowess, tackling profound themes with grace and sensitivity. Through its heartfelt narrative and poignant illustrations, the novella serves as a compelling reminder of the shared humanity that binds us all, transcending borders and circumstances. As we celebrate the one-year anniversary of this powerful work, “Sea Prayer” continues to resonate with readers, leaving an indelible mark on the literary landscape.