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The lightless sky: an Afghan refugee boy's journey of escape to a new life in Britain

The lightless sky: an Afghan refugee boy's journey of escape to a new life in Britain

Passarlay, Gulwali, author; Ghouri, Nadene, 1975- author

Gulwali Passarlay was sent away from Afghanistan at the age of 12, after his father was killed in a gun battle with the US army for hiding Taliban fighters. Smuggled into Iran, Gulwali began a 12 month odyssey across Europe, spending time in prisons, suffering hunger, cruelty, brutality, nearly drowning in a tiny boat on the Mediterranean. Somehow he survived, and made it to Britain, no longer an innocent child but still a boy of 12. Here in Britain he was fostered, sent to a good school, won a place at a top university, and was chosen to carry the Olympic torch in 2012. He wants to tell his story - to bring to life the plight of the thousands of men, women and children who risk their lives to leave behind the troubles of their homelands. Many die along the way, some are sent back to face imprisonment and possible death, some survive and make it here, to a country which offers them the chance of a life of freedom

Hardback, Book. English.
Published London: Atlantic Books, 2015
from 2 users

Available at Central Library.

  • Central Library – One available in Biography 920PAS

    Barcode Shelfmark Loan type Status
    X4000000030263 Biography 920PAS Adult Non-Fiction Available


Statement of responsibility: Gulwali Passarlay with Nadene Ghouri
ISBN: 1782398449, 9781782398448
Physical Description: 364 pages, 4 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (colour), maps (black and white) ; 24 cm
Subject: Afghans Great Britain Biography.; Biography.; Refugees Afghanistan.; Passarlay, Gulwali.; Refugees Great Britain.

Author note

Gulwali Passarlay was sent away from Afghanistan as a young boy, fleeing the conflict that had claimed his father's life. After an extraordinarily tortuous journey across eight countries, Gulwali arrived in the UK a year later and has devoted his new life to education. Now twenty-one years old, he is set to graduate from the University of Manchester with a degree in Social Science. Gulwali is a member of many prestigious political, aid, and youth groups, each a stepping stone to his ultimate goal: to enter a life of politics. In 2012 he was invited to carry the Olympic torch.


An extraordinary man - achieving against all odds
The Bookseller||[A] powerful account of a year-long journey to Britain... As the reader, you want to hug the boy, and punch the air with pride at this woman, who epitomises the best of the West. 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.
The Times||This is a harrowing but necessary must-read about an exceptional young man.
Stylist||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.
The Independent on Sunday||[A] beautifully written portrayal of a frightened 12 year-old boy cherishing dimming memories of his family, spurred on by an almost supernatural kind of hope. It should be required reading in British schools.
The Big Issue||A Book of the Year
New Statesman