I listened to this book and the best thing about it is the narrator, Gideon Emery. As many great audio book readers do, he created a voice for each character, making a rather dull book into a masterpiece.
Lawrence Hill also wrote The Book of Negroes which I reviewed several weeks ago. I was interested to see what he would do with a contemporary novel.
It’s the story of a young black marathon runner from Zantoroland, living illegally in Freedom State. Why Hill thought it necessary to make this a slightly dystopian plot with fictional national entities, I don’t know. Why not just use Somalia or Nigeria and South Africa? Doing so would have required a lot more careful research, but it would have been so much more compelling.
In reading through the Amazon reviews, I noted that one Canadian reviewer thought the book depicted the condition of African-Americans. That never crossed my mind. Yes, Hill portrays problems of illegals, but they are universal problems today, and African-Americans are citizens, not illegals. That said there are significant problems in the U.S. regarding the treatment of minorities and illegals. Canada has a much better track record.
I can’t find much to recommend The Illegal. Not a bad read, just not good enough to merit the investment of time. Listening to it in my car as I drove around Tucson was the perfect way to fill those boring minutes.