The Lightless Sky: A Twelve-Year-Old Refugee's Extraordinary Journey Across Half the World
Nadene Ghouri, Gulwali Passarlay

The Lightless Sky: A Twelve-Year-Old Refugee's Extraordinary Journey Across Half the World

A gripping, inspiring, and eye-opening memoir of fortitude and survival--of a twelve-year-old boy's traumatic flight from Afghanistan to the West--that puts a face to one of the most shocking and devastating humanitarian crises of our time.

"To risk my life had to mean something. Otherwise what was it all for?"

In 2006, after his father was killed, Gulwali Passarlay was caught between the Taliban who wanted to recruit him, and the Americans who wanted to use him. To protect her son, Gulwali's mother sent him away. The search for safety would lead the twelve-year-old across eight countries, from the mountains of eastern Afghanistan through Iran and Europe to Britain. Over the course of twelve harrowing months, Gulwali endured imprisonment, hunger, cruelty, brutality, loneliness, and terror--and nearly drowned crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Eventually granted asylum in England, Gulwali was sent to a good school, learned English, won a place at a top university, and was chosen to help carry the Olympic Torch in the 2012 London Games.

In The Lightless Sky, Gulwali recalls his remarkable experience and offers a firsthand look at one of the most pressing issues of our time: the modern refugee crisis--the worst displacement of millions of men, women, and children in generations. Few, like Gulwali, make it to a country that offers the chance of freedom and opportunity. A celebration of courage and determination, The Lightless Sky is a poignant account of an exceptional human being who is today an ardent advocate of democracy--and a reminder of our responsibilities to those caught in terrifying and often deadly circumstances beyond their control.

Book Details:

  • Author: Nadene Ghouri, , Gulwali Passarlay
  • Published Year: 2017
  • Rights Sold
    • France: Hachette Livre
    • Germany: Piper
    • Italy: Sperling & Kupfer
    • Romania: Polirom
    • China: Xiron.
Nadene Ghouri,

Nadene Ghouri,

Nadene Ghouri is a multi-award winning journalist specialising in human interest and human rights issues. She is a former correspondent of both the BBC and Al Jazeera English and today is a freelance broadcaster and reporter working for BBC current affairs and leading publications including The Guardian and Mail on Sunday. She is the co-author of two New York Times bestsellers The Favoured Daughter about the life of Afghan human rights activist Fawzia Koofi and Born Into The Children of God with cult survivor Natacha Tormey. The Lightless Sky was named as one of the ‘buzz books’...
More about Nadene Ghouri,

Gulwali  Passarlay

Gulwali Passarlay

Gulwali Passarlay is an advocate, humanitarian and spokesperson for refugees and asylum seekers across the U.K.     Since arriving in the UK in 2007 after being forced to leave Afghanistan as a 12 year old boy, he has been a political campaigner for refugee’s rights, social justice and education. The experience of his journey to the UK shaped his future and inspired an insatiable determination and commitment to raise awareness and make a difference for other refugees.   In his talks, shares his story of struggle, danger and resilience and how he miraculously su...
More about Gulwali Passarlay

Book Reviews

  • "A story which moved me to tears more than once ."
    Women Together
  • "Beautifully written... It should be required reading in British schools."
    The Big Issue
  • "The Lightless Sky is a heart-rending read that illuminates the plight of unaccompanied minors forced to leave their homes and loved ones. [Passarlay's] fierce intelligence is apparent throughout... His powerful account is a testament to the courage of all those fleeing conflict in search of safety. "
    Independent on Sunday
  • "This is a harrowing but necessary must-read about an exceptional young man."
    Stylist
  • "[A] powerful account of a year-long journey to Britain... As a call for Europe and Britain to do more for the world's refugees, the book is as powerful as that harrowing picture of the dead toddler on the beach. "
    Times
  • "An extraordinary man - achieving against all odds."
    Jon Snow
  • " Riveting."
    Bookseller
  • "The Lightless Sky is a remarkably vivid memoir [that] leaves you fearing for Gulwali's safety and admiring his utterly tenacious resolve against overwhelming odds; but at the same time it is also a fearsome reminder of the experiences being endured by numberless, anonymous migrants."
    The Herald (Scotland)
  • "A tale of fortitude and friendship told through a child's eyes, Gulwali's story casts much needed light on the difficult decisions refugees are forced to take about who to trust and how to stay alive against a backdrop of political indifference."
    The Refugee Council
  • "At once deeply upsetting and entirely inspiring, this is the story of a young boy who faced tremendous misfortune and danger on his journey from Afghanistan to Britain... this young man's journey demands to be read, and his story and achievements celebrated."
    World Travel Guide