The Illegal: Book summary and reviews of The Illegal by Lawrence Hill

The Illegal

by Lawrence Hill

The Illegal by Lawrence Hill X
The Illegal by Lawrence Hill
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Book Summary

Internationally best-selling author Lawrence Hill returns with an extraordinary, resonant novel about a man on the run.

Lawrence Hill spellbound readers with Someone Knows My Name (made into the television mini-series, The Book of Negroes), hailed as "transporting" (Entertainment Weekly) and "completely engrossing" (Washington Post). The Illegal is the gripping story of Keita Ali, a refugee - like the many in today's headlines - compelled to leave his homeland.

All Keita has ever wanted to do is to run. Running means respect and wealth at home. His native Zantoroland, a fictionalized country whose tyrants are eerily familiar, turns out the fastest marathoners on earth. But after his journalist father is killed for his outspoken political views, Keita must flee to the wealthy nation of Freedom State, a country engaged in a crackdown on all undocumented people.

There, Keita becomes a part of the new underground. He learns what it means to live as an illegal: surfacing to earn cash prizes by running local races and assessing whether the people he meets will be kind or turn him in. As the authorities seek to arrest Keita, he strives to elude capture and ransom his sister, who has been kidnapped.

Set in an imagined country bearing a striking resemblance to our own, this tension-filled novel casts its eye on race, human potential, and what it means to belong.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. With a captivating structure that allows the story to converge flawlessly and a rich, imaginative history like that in James McBride's Song Yet Sung, this work will appeal to readers of literary and African literature." - Library Journal

"Hill's intricate, propulsive plot includes corruption, murder, and mayhem, and readers will be rushing to its fulfilling resolution." - Publishers Weekly

"Deeply satisfying ... shot through with humor and humanity... [A] timely and affecting story." - Booklist

"The settings may be imaginary, but the perils rendered here are as real as the front-page stories in this morning's newspaper about refugees desperate for safety in Western countries reluctant to welcome them." - Kirkus

"A twisting, intricately woven yarn that spins itself out at an incredible pace... Hill takes on the snarled, pressing issues of our moment in time... His larger moral questions linger, provocatively." - Globe and Mail

"Hill has masterfully portrayed the voices lost in our contemporary discussions of immigration. This is a compelling and thought-provoking examination of the challenges any nation faces when we fail to serve as our brother's and sister's keepers across borders, nationality, and race. A must-read." - Heidi W. Durrow, New York Times best-selling author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

"With skill and grace, Hill reminds us of our interconnectedness with displaced people around the world. This is a book about the liberating power of compassion. Don't miss it." - Dolen Perkins-Valdez, best-selling author of Wench and Balm

This information about The Illegal was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Louise

Fast paced and compelling
At first glimpse Keita's life is simple but comfortable. At a young age he knows that running is his passion. The reality of his father's concerns hit home when he runs by a naked body, dead and in the middle of the city fountain. His life turns to turmoil when his beloved sister wins a scholarship that takes her to a far away country. He and his father are left to take care of each other. He soon realizes his father's writing has brought undesired attention to the two of them from the corrupt ruler of the state. Keita's running becomes more than just winning a race.

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Author Information

Lawrence Hill Author Biography

Hill is the author of ten books of fiction and non-fiction. In 2005, he won his first literary honor: a National Magazine Award for the article "Is Africa's Pain Black America's Burden?" published in The Walrus. His first two novels were Some Great Thing and Any Known Blood. His first non-fiction work to attract national attention was the memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black< and White in Canada. It was his third novel, The Book of Negroes (2007) — published in some countries as Someone Knows My Name and in French as Aminata — that attracted widespread attention in Canada and other countries.

Lawrence Hill's non-fiction book, Blood: The Stuff of Life was published in September 2013. Blood is a personal consideration of the physical, social, cultural...

... Full Biography
Link to Lawrence Hill's Website

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