Deadly Shore

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Title: Sea Prayer

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: 30/08/2018

Price: 499 INR

Pages: 48 (Hardcover)

A father cradles his sleeping son the beauty of their city Homs, Syria, as they wait for the dawn to break and a boat to arrive. He describes the city with its crowded lanes, its mosque and churches and a big market with gold pendants and bridal dresses, the packed streets filled with aroma of ‘fried kibbeh’ and the beautiful Clock Tower Square. “I wish you remembered Homs as I do, Marwan,” he quotes.

The father is regretful of the fact that when Marwan grows up the memories etched in his mind would be of protests, skies spitting bombs, starvation, burials he says, “you have learned dark blood is better news than bright,” instead of the stirring of olive trees and how his mother took him on a trip to show him herd of cows grazing with wild flowers.

Sea prayer is emotional and touches the right string when the father says, “Hold my hand. Nothing bad will happen,” showing his powerlessness to protect him from the vast, deep sea, all the while knowing that they are uninvited and unwelcomed on the foreign shores.

Despite all its consequences, the book ends with the father’s prayer, showing the power of hope.

The book is dedicated to the thousands of refugees who have perished at sea fleeing war and persecution. Sea Prayer is written by the author for UNHCR fundraising, the UN Refugee Agency.

Peace and security are two words that do not exist in a refugee’s dictionary. Be it Rohingyas, Syrians, Mexicans or refugees from any part of the world. They face problems which we can’t even imagine. They seek shelter, a lifestyle, food so they try and migrate to other countries but even that’s not an easy task. Some eastern and European countries like Serbia, Hungary, Czech Republic and USA have tightened their refugee policy intensifying the trouble of these runaways. These displaced people not only have trouble finding decent accommodation, but employment as well. And who can forget the picture of the three-year-old Alan Kurdi’s body washed up on the beach, which became the sad face of the migrant crisis?

Thrilled by this image the bestselling author Khaled Hosseini wrote his latest book Sea Prayer, a graphic novel with a short story. Hosseini is a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency and the founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation which provides humanitarian services to the people of Afghanistan. Hosseini says the story is close to his heart as he himself belongs to a war-torn country. Even though he has found a new life in California but he still feels connected to his refugee brothers and sisters because of the roots. Albeit, being much shorter than his previous works, the book hasn’t failed to capture the predicament of a father trying to protect his impeccable child from the harsh reality. It is a book for the people of all ages.

Hosseini has experimented with exile in all of his earlier books. The Kite Runner had Amir fleeing to California with his father after the foray while A Thousand Splendid Suns gave voice to Laila and Tariq, who find shelter in Pakistan after fleeing from Taliban’s brutal dominion. Author’s third novel And The Mountains Echoed, too is a story of a brother-sister duo Abdullah and Pari who are forced to leave Afghanistan only to meet later in California.

Sea Prayer grows more appealing with the marvellous illustrations of Dan Williams, the book is a graphic novel with watercolour painting which adds to the spirit of the story in the book.

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