Books that humanize the world: Author Khaled Hosseini on how his latest “Sea Prayer” gives refugees a voice


In the United States, there is no shortage of misinformation and political rhetoric that contributes to the dehumanization of refugees who are fleeing violence in their home countries. It's a dynamic that Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini, a former refugee, is keenly aware of and seeks to upend in his newest book "Sea Prayer.”

"Nobody chooses to be a refugee, nobody chooses to abandon their home, their community, their friends, their roots and leave and become a burden on a host nation," Hosseini said on "Salon Talks." "But the fact is that refugees are cornered in these choices by persecution, by abuse, by a threat of violence, by existential fear. And the choice to return home for many of them has been taken from them. Every refugee wants to go home, and this is one of the common things that I run into, no matter where I speak to refugees or what country they're from."

Part of the problem, Hosseini said, is that so many people don't know refugees personally, they're not in living in their communities, they're not interacting with them and thus not understanding their plight. “The Kite Runner" author added that there's also a "disconnect between headlines and actual human stories."

Bridging that gap is one of Hosseini's guiding principles as an author. "It's so important of me as a writer, to keep telling stories of refugees and to keep trying to bring a human dimension to the headlines that we see," he said.

Watch the video above to hear some anecdotes from Hosseini's recent trips to refugee camps in Lebanon and Sicily. And check out the full interview to learn more about why Hosseini is drawn to storytelling.

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