Reading prompt #49: A book about an immigrant or refugee

I have my in-laws to thank for this book selection, The Illegal by Lawrence Hill. The Illegal was the Canada Reads 2016 winning book. 

The story of Keita Ali, runner from fictional Zantoroland, has gone into hiding in Freedomland. He is fleeing political and racial persecution in his homeland. Parallels with Rwanda (see Shake Hands with the Devil by Roméo Dallaire), North Korea and South Africa apartheid are hard to miss, as well as the marathon running cultures of Kenya and Ethiopia (see the documentary Transcend). Hill captures Keita’s desperation, using running as a metaphor and a salvation for our hero.  

I enjoyed this book and its running theme but found the conflict resolution to be too neat and tidy, too serendipitous for real life. The brutality of an authoritarian regime is somewhat muted, likely to make the book more palatable. That’s ironic, given the book is an attempt to make the reader consider what blinders they have on regarding immigration to their own country and the suffering of millions of refugees, happening right now. (You can sti

The political muzzling of journalists in The  Illegal has put George Orwell’s 1984 into my head, so that’s likely the next book on my list. 

Number of books completed: 6/52

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