Religion Magazine

A Crisis in Chiaroscuro

By Richardl @richardlittleda

A review of ‘The Lightless Sky’ by Gulwali Passarlay with Nadene Ghouri

To describe an English book by an Afghan man about a journey across Asia and Europe by using an Italian art term may seem unexpected, at the very least. However, there is a reason for the term. Some of Italy’s greatest painters, such as Caravaggio, used chiaroscuro (light-dark) to juxtapose light and darkness in such a way on the canvas that an image left the two-dimensional surface with an enduring three-dimensional impact on the viewer. Passarlay has done just this with his readers. In the course of his long journey, kindness and cruelty, brutal neglect and unexpected kindness sit next to each other on the page. The reader is left reeling from the impact.

If this were fiction, Passarlay and Ghouri would surely be in the running for a prize. Sadly, it is not. This is the account of a global crisis from the perspective of a twelve-year old boy, and it could not be more powerful. It was Stalin who once said that ‘one death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic’ . Whilst I hesitate to agree with him about anything – it is true that the scale of the refugee crisis has numbed us to its human cost. As the numbers mount, our ability to feel their impact is diminished. Passarlay’s is a small voice reversing that trend. This is a book which enables the reader to inhabit the experience of those fleeing across Europe and thereby to gain some understanding of it.  There is a world of difference between the book’s intense narrative and the tabloid headline which simplifies the crisis to a few one-sided words.  Read it, and find the flame of your humanity kindled all over again. As the author says, it is ‘more than anything a book about faith, hope and optimism’.

Something strange happened to me as I read this book. I found myself so engaged with the narrative that I was unwilling to stop. Every time I put the book down, I felt guilty – as if abandoning Gulwali at the roadside. I told him as much, and he played the game with me – commenting on the places where I had ‘left’ him and urging me to come back soon. How many other voiceless ones would say the same thing, I wonder?

Gulwali Passerlay has a dream. The dream is that one day a child will read his book and ask ‘what was a refugee’?  That day is a long way off, but this wonderful book might just bring it closer.


CLICK for further details

One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic. Joseph Stalin

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Big Food Giants Manipulate Public Health Policy in China

    Food Giants Manipulate Public Health Policy China

    Coca-Cola is at it again. As soda sales decline in the United States and Europe, beverage companies look to emerging economies like China for growth. And, it... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Dietdoctor
  • Jewellery for a Precious You

    Jewellery Precious

    Jewellery is always close to a woman’s heart. It completes her look and boost confidence. Considering the changing trends in jewellery fashion, it becomes... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Dr.jenifer Sayyed
  • Rajshri Productions’ Next Is A Film On Friendship | Hum Chaar | Trailer

    Abhishek Dixit’s debut feature film Hum Chaar is a Bollywood film made under the banner of Rajshri’s film. Hum Chaar is written and directed by Abhishek Dixit. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Themoviean
  • Saint Paul the First Hermit

    Saint Paul First Hermit

    Today is the feast day of Saint Paul the hermit. This is a sweet and delicate Oatmeal Bread topped with rolled oats and naturally sweetened with agave. Saint... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Veronica46
  • Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu | Teaser | Pranav Mohanlal | Arun Gopy

    Arun Gopy’s Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu is an upcoming Malayalam action-drama feature film starring Pranav Mohanlal and Zaya David in the lead roles. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Themoviean
  • A Year Of Body Positivity

    Year Body Positivity

    Last January, as I sat there on New Years eve all set to make the same old resolutions I've made year after year for as long as I can remember, I realised how... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Sparklesandstretchmarks
  • Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – Jan 2019

    Garden Bloggers Bloom 2019

    Euphorbia rigidaWhen I went out to take the photos for this blog post I was surprised at how much was in flower dotted around the garden. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Patientgardener