Lawrence Hill: the Illegal In Conversation with CBC's Waubgeshig Rice

2015 24 Nov
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Lawrence Hill: the Illegal In Conversation with CBC's Waubgeshig Rice

Lawrence Hill will be in Ottawa to discuss his new novel The Illegal on November 24 with you hosted by CBC's Waubgeshig Rice, author of Midnight Sweatlodge and Legacy. Guaranteed to be a stimulating evening!

Tuesday, November 24 2015
Centretown United Church
507 Bank St.

Tickets are now available for purchase at the store or online:

Advance tickets at Octopus Books, both locations (116 Third Ave. or 251 Bank St. 2nd floor): $10 general admission / $5 students & low-income

Tickets at the door: $15 general admission / $10 students & low-income.

About the Book

Keita Ali is on the run. 

Like every boy on the mountainous island of Zantoroland, running is all Keita's ever wanted to do. In one of the poorest nations in the world, running means respect. Running means riches—until Keita is targeted for his father's outspoken political views and discovers he must run for his family's survival.

He signs on with notorious marathon agent Anton Hamm, but when Keita fails to place among the top finishers in his first race, he escapes into Freedom State—a wealthy island nation that has elected a government bent on deporting the refugees living within its borders in the community of AfricTown. Keita can stay safe only if he keeps moving and eludes Hamm and the officials who would deport him to his own country, where he would face almost certain death.

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. As Keita surfaces from time to time to earn cash prizes by running local road races, he has to assess whether the people he meets are friends or enemies: John Falconer, a gifted student struggling to escape the limits of his AfricTown upbringing; Ivernia Beech, a spirited old woman at risk of being forced into an assisted living facility; Rocco Calder, a recreational marathoner and the immigration minister; Lula DiStefano, self-declared queen of AfricTown and madam of the community's infamous brothel; and Viola Hill, a reporter who is investigating the lengths to which her government will go to stop illegal immigration.

Keita's very existence in Freedom State is illegal. 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.

Fast moving and compelling, The Illegal casts a satirical eye on people who have turned their backs on undocumented refugees struggling to survive in a nation that does not want them. Hill's depiction of life on the borderlands of society urges us to consider the plight of the unseen and the forgotten who live among us.

Watch book trailer:

Reviews / Interviews with the Author:

Lawrence Hill's The Illegal inspired by refugee survival stories: ""I think we have trouble imagining the lives of refugees and stateless people," Hill told CBC News on Tuesday morning. "With refugees, you see all these pictures of these people who are displaced or on the move... It's important to remember that each of these people has a story: has a mother and a father and perhaps children, lovers, aptitudes and skills. There are doctors, engineers and lawyers in those groups of displaced people, as well as people of every other economic class.""

Review: Lawrence Hill’s The Illegal is a twisting, intricately woven yarn in The Globe and Mail

3 novelists humanize the refugee experience in powerful fiction

Lawrence Hill discusses The Illegal in The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers

Praise for the book:

The Illegal is a twisting, intricately woven yarn that spins itself out at an incredible pace. —The Globe and Mail

[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

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