“The Illegal” by Lawrence Hill (W. W. Norton & Co, 2016)

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.