Every month, we shine the light on a book from our collection – one which is new to the library, which has been particularly enjoyed by a borrower, recommended by a volunteer, or which seems salient to the month’s events or happenings. To see the archive of past books of the month (formerly book of the week), click here.
The current book of the month is…
Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini
Something between prose and poetry, Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini is a prayer addressed from a father to son recalling their home in Syria as they flee across a perilous sea. It is agonizing in its attention to detail as it evokes the old home they had in Syria: “the bleating of your grandmother’s goat” and “the sun a pale rim of persimmon to the east”. The text is a prayer for memories preserved, a plea that the past will not be forgotten in all its vivid details, shrouded in the pain, starvation, and suffering that later shrouded the community there. Life is breathed into scenes of crowded markets and farmhouses through the accompanying bright watercolours. Just as vividly evoked, however, is the war and bloodshed which the father worries will be his son’s only recollections of his Syrian home.
This is a book which reminds the reader of the voices of parents and children, the kindness and comfort of family, the fear and raw humanity at the heart of the big faceless refugee crisis. It is a heartbreaking reminder of the importance of home, and the terror and uncertainty of being uprooted.
This month at OPL we’re thinking a lot about the importance of home, as we come into our final month of residency at Open House. Earlier this year, we launched a zine, Oxford is my Home which was a collaboratively-created project exploring stories of home and housing, and what it is to find, make, or even lose a home here in Oxford. We are now devleoping the second issue through our weekly Wednesday Writing Home sessions at Open House, and through a flagship event to which all are invited on 19 October. Come explore your own stories of home and share them with us at this special event.