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Book Review: Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini's books are known for evoking emotions and breaking heart as they are so powerful with their themes and stories. The author shot into fame immediately after his first novel 'The Kite Runner' that delves deep into the political and cultural landscape of Afghanistan. That book took us to that time when this small country, laced with natural beauty and peace-loving people was dragged into the battlefield by Soviet first and then it was Taliban that robbed whatever seemed to be left out. The nation is still in pain and humanity seems like a joke over there, in fact wherever there is war humanity goes for toss.

Subsequently, in his later books, 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' and 'And the Mountains Echoed', the persistent theme that we see is the lives of Afghani people. He has well-represented the plight of his people.

Now coming to his fourth book, that recently got released, Sea Prayer is about the pain and suffering of refugees from war-torn Syria. The short book with illustrations is loosely based on the kid Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old boy who drowned while crossing the sea with his parents to reach Europe in 2015. This book is dedicated to that kid and many like him.

Sea Prayer depicts that people in Homs and many other parts of Syria are trapped by death from all sides almost. If they live in the cities or their homes, there are chances that they are bombed by any of the fighting groups or by their own army. And while fleeing to safety to other nearby countries, they have to cross the sea on improvised ferries that most of the time capsizes, resulting in death.

Here the father of Marwan, the small boy fast asleep on his mother's lap is unaware of the worldly commotion. His father, while seeing at him, narrates about his happy time in Homs i.e. as a child, like him, what he used to with along with his other brothers. In the first paragraph you will find him saying good things about the country they are leaving.

The setting of the story is beachside and it is night time, people miserable like them are waiting for a ferry or boat which will take them to some other land where they possibly will find home and hope.
Marwan's father then gradually comes to the grim points by saying that first there were protests, seize and then bombs spitting from the sky. The country gets into the ugliness of war - the part which this toddler Marwan has been partially aware.

His father gets into other miseries of the war para by para and he points out that ‘I am a powerless father who cannot do anything to save you except prayer’.

He believes that Marwan is a beautiful boy (referred as special cargo) and the sea will take care of him. For his safety, he prays to the sea which they will cross in the morning.

With illustrations, the book looked sizeable (about 48 pages), the story is too short to reach any specific end or conclusion but the message in it is very strong, and it depicts the pain of refugees fleeing their war-ravaged country. Through this short book, the author Khaled Hosseini strictly condemns the need of war in the world. Beautifully written and portrayed with the help of illustrations, Sea Prayer will compel you to think about the pain and agony of the people that you have not met or seen. Highly evocative in nature.


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