Keita Ali has nothing: no bank account, no papers, no legal identity. A runner, he has fled home - a brutal dictatorship that produces the world's fastest marathoners - to live as an illegal refugee in a wealthy Western nation, surviving on winnings from local races. But the government is cracking down on illegal immigrants, so Keita - who will be executed if he is deported to his homeland - goes underground.
Now a series of crises call for him to earn quick money: an unscrupulous businessman targets him, a serious health problem erupts, and, most troublingly, officials in Keita's native country kidnap his sister, threatening to execute her unless he pays a ransom. As Keita struggles to resolve these problems, he discovers a troubling political connection between his native and his adoptive countries.
The Illegal is a rich, riveting novel that weaves a complex moral and psychological web.
©2015 Lawrence Hill Creative Services, Inc. (P)2016 Recorded Books
The book of negroes is one of my favourite books, but this book fell flat for me. The premise of the book was interesting but the story felt under developed, the plot was predictable and the characters were not very believable. I was surprised by how much I disliked this book. In less eloquent terms, this book was a "meh".
I literally couldn't put this book down. It was riveting! There were no slow parts and the passing was perfect. I loved all the characters and how and the manner in which they're described. And at one point, I was sitting in the airport waiting for my flight when who should walk in and sit down across the room from me? Lawrence Hill!!! Totally surreal and he's such a nice guy.
I rarely use the above terms in a review but this author deserves recognition in all three categories. Mr. Emery 's ability to alter his voice for different characters is remarkable. I could imagine the faces of many of the lead people.
Listen to this book. It is the BEST I have heard all of 2015-16!
Susan in British Columbia
The was just wonderful to read. Tender. Warm. Sad. Hope. So many characters, and the reader did a wonderful job of bringing them and the words to life. I highly recommend this book.
Well written and very good commentary on the perception of refugees and immigration. however, the majority of the characters are black and have backgrounds stemming from Africa yet the narrator is a white British man. It would have made a better impact and a lot more sense if the narrator was black or mixed with a range of different African accents.
Not that I'm offended but that detail took me out of the story many times.
I might want to give this 3.5 stars. I've seen other reviews critique the too-neat ending, and that would be my major criticism too. At one level, such an ending is satisfying -- happily ever after -- but at another level it is just too unrealistic and loses the credibility of much of the preparation for the ending. However, until the ending lets you down, the book was great. The characterization of Keita was most interesting, but what was particularly worth the read was the study of government corruption in many layers and the workings of journalists to unpack the trouble.
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