"Kite Runner" author Khaled Hosseini tells his refugee story and how it inspired Syrian character in “Sea Prayer”


"This is a displacement crisis of historic proportions,” bestselling author Khaled Hosseini said on “Salon Talks,” referencing the Syrian refugee crisis that is the backdrop of his new illustrated poetry book “Sea Prayer.”.

Hosseini, author of the beloved novels "Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns," which tell stories set in Afghanistan, opened up on SalonTV about his experiences as a refugee, which began 38 years ago when his family was forced to flee Afghanistan and settled in the United States.

Today, as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, he’s supporting Syrian refugees and bringing humanity to the headlines.

"Sea Prayer” tells one refugee’s story of displacement and serves as a window into the refugee crisis in the Middle East. Hosseini says he was motivated to write it after seeing the gut-wrenching photo of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, whose small body washed up on a Turkish beach in 2015, after his family attempted to flee Syria.

"That photograph, as a father, just bludgeoned me," Hosseini told SalonTV’s Rachel Leah. "I just tried to imagine what he must be going through as a father, himself, and so it was sort of the germ for writing 'Sea Prayer.'"

In the book, Hosseini details the emotions a parent feels when forced to flee their home and risk everything by embarking on a dangerous journey with their family. "These are choices that are not made lightly. These are choices of desperation," Hosseini said. "Every refugee wants to go home."

Proceeds from Hosseini’s "Sea Prayer" will be donated to the UN Refugee Agency to help displaced people. Watch the full video above to hear more about the hostility towards refugees and why “Sea Prayer,” through its art and poetry, might be able to lessen some anti-refugee sentiment.


Photography by Jill Greenberg. Watch Jill's TedxTalk on the Female Lens and the problem with only seeing the world from a man's perspective. And find out more about Jill's initiative Alreadymade., a mission to hire more female photographers and content creators.


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