Upcoming Lawrence Hill novel about refugee marathoner

Lawrence Hill
Photo: Nigel Dickinson / CC

Popular Canadian novelist Lawrence Hill will publish his first work of fiction since his award-winning  breakout novel The Book of Negroes. The upcoming novel,  The Illegal, will centre on a marathon runner who is forced into hiding as an illegal refugee after fleeing his home country.

“I have been thinking about the lives of undocumented refugees since meeting Sudanese expatriates in West Berlin in the 1980s,” explains Hill. “In Canada, the United States and around the world, millions of people have to survive with a huge question mark over their lives. Will they be deported? Persecuted? Executed? What do their lives look like while they are hiding in rich nations and trying, against all odds, to get on with their lives? These questions became my obsession and the inspiration for The Illegal.”

The new novel will be released on Sept. 1, 2015 and will be accompanied by a nationwide book tour.

Hill has been a runner since he was a teenager, something he’s known for around Hamilton, Ont., where he lives. The writer told Toronto Life in 2009 that he’d dreamed of representing Canada at the Olympics in the 5,000m before coming to the tough realization that though tough goals required hard work at determination they weren’t themselves always enough.

The Book of Negroes won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize in 2007 and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2008.