Elena Seibert
David Canfield
February 21, 2018 AT 09:00 AM EST

Internationally best-selling author Khaled Hosseini’s next book is an explicit response to the Syrian refugee crisis, inspired by the infamously devastating image from 2015 of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi washed upon the beach in Turkey.

EW can exclusively announce Sea Prayer, the new book from Hosseini which features original illustrations from Dan Williams. Written in the form of a letter, Sea Prayer is a father’s reflection as he watches over his sleeping son, on the dangerous journey across the sea that lies before them. It is also an account of their life in Homs, Syria, before the war, and of that city’s swift transformation from a home into a deadly war zone. The book was produced in collaboration with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and originally released as a Guardian virtual film last September.

“We are living in the midst of a displacement crisis of enormous proportions,” Hosseini said in a statement. “Sea Prayer is an attempt to pay tribute to the millions of families, like Alan Kurdi’s, who have been splintered and forced from home by war and persecution.”

Hosseini is best known for his 2003 phenomenon, The Kite Runner, his debut novel which was adapted into a film and has sold millions of copies in the U.S. alone. His books in the past have contended with the rise and influence of the Taliban, as well as life in contemporary Afghanistan.

“Any new project from Khaled Hosseini is momentous,” Riverhead editor in chief Sarah McGrath added. “He is one of the most important writers of our time. But this work is particularly poignant in its heartbreaking engagement with the refugee crisis. I believe this beautifully written, intensely moving story will be cherished by people of all ages, and all over the world.”

Sea Prayer will be published by Riverhead on Sept. 18. You can check out an exclusive image from Sea Prayer, illustrated by Williams, below.

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