Book Details

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CBC Best Book of the Year

CBC Canada Reads

Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year

National Post Book of the Year

About the Book

#1 national bestseller by the author of The Book of Negroes

Winner of the CBC’s Canada Reads

Longlisted for the 2017 International DUBLIN Literary Award

A CBC, Globe and Mail, and National Post Best Book of the Year

Winner of the CBC Canada Reads competition, Maclean’s calls The Illegal “a book for our times.” In the dark fictional world of Zantoroland, bestselling, award-winning author Lawrence Hill casts a satirical eye on some of the most pressing issues of our time: race, immigration, undocumented refugees, discrimination and how the unseen and forgotten must struggle to survive.

In one of the poorest nations in the world, running means respect and riches. But when Keita Ali is targeted for his father’s outspoken political views, he escapes into Freedom State—a wealthy island nation. This is the new underground: a place where tens of thousands of people deemed to be “illegal” live below the radar of the police and government officials. Keita must keep moving in order to avoid deportation. As he trains in secret, eluding capture, the stakes keep getting higher. Soon, he is running not only for his life, but for his sister’s life, too.

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Critical Praise

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

The Illegal is a page turner. . . . The parallel world Hill has created allows for a perhaps fantastical overcoming of obstacles that is both exhilarating and heartening. —Toronto Star

The narrative structure of The Illegal is artful and suspenseful, the themes it addresses timely and prescient. Most of all, it is a thrilling story that paints a rich portrait of complex experiences too often reduced to a single media image. —Winnipeg Free Press

[The Illegal] explores many charged issues and questions. . . . [It] will, no doubt, remain in readers’ minds, and may help deepen our urgent dialogue about race and immigration. —Quill and Quire

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

[A] taut political thriller. . . . Hill’s intricate, propulsive plot includes corruption, murder, and mayhem, and readers will be rushing to its fulfilling resolution. —Publishers Weekly

Pushing the story forward is a character who has the kind of determination, bravery, and loyalty that most people could only strive for. . . . He is the kind of character you will root for all the way to the finish line. My rating: 5/5. —Newstalk 1010, Bookends review

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-bestselling author of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

“Hill has outdone himself with his latest novel. . . . His characters are authentic, and each is indispensable. . . . Captivating.” —Library Journal (starred review)

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9781554683857
  • ISBN 10: 1554683858
  • Imprint: Harper Perennial
  • On Sale: 04/25/2017
  • Pages: 400
  • List Price: 18.99 CAD
  • BISAC1: FICTION / African American / General
  • BISAC2: FICTION / Dystopian
  • BISAC3: FICTION / Literary

The Illegal by Lawrence Hill

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