The Illegal
by Lawrence Hill

Overview -

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 ).  Read more...

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More About The Illegal by Lawrence Hill

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.

  • ISBN-13: 9780393070590
  • ISBN-10: 039307059X
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Publish Date: January 2016
  • Page Count: 400
  • Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > African American - General
Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Dystopian

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-10-12
  • Reviewer: Staff

This taut political thriller from Hill (The Book of Negroes) focuses on undocumented immigrants, and how they struggle to survive in hostile nations. Keita Ali lives in the fictional island continent of Zantorland, located between Africa and Australia and best known for producing world-class marathon runners. His older sister, Charity, and well-respected journalist father, Yoyo, encourage Keitas training as a gifted marathoner, but then Yoyo is arrested for his supposedly incendiary writings. Charity later escapes to study at Harvard, and Keita excels at racing. After the government thugs kill the dissident Yoyo, Keita flees to Clarkson, the capital of the nearby (and also fictional) island continent called Freedom State. He befriends Viola Hill, a paraplegic reporter covering the civil unrest in AfricTown, a chaotic ghetto where the glut of unwanted refugees like Keita stay. He continues running to win the prize money in marathon competitions, especially after Charity is lured back to Zantorland, kidnapped, and held for ransom. The descriptive passages of Keitas runs offer ample excitement, while the colorful minor characters such as Lula DiStefano, the unofficial queen of AfricTown, and Ivernia Beech, Keitas elderly but feisty landlady, add refreshing story elements. Hills intricate, propulsive plot includes corruption, murder, and mayhem, and readers will be rushing to its fulfilling resolution. (Jan.)

BAM Customer Reviews