“Hill eerily captures a tale that could be ripped from the headlines.”
— Essence and Time Magazines


Keita Ali is on the run.

Like every boy on the mountainous island of Zantoroland, running is all Keita’s ever wanted to do. In one of the poorest nations in the world, running means respect. Running means riches—until Keita is targeted for his father’s outspoken political views and discovers he must run for his family’s survival.

Keita escapes into Freedom State—a wealthy island nation that has elected a government bent on deporting the refugees living within its borders in the community of AfricTown.

Keita can stay safe only if he keeps moving and eludes the officials who would deport him to his own country, where he would face almost certain death. Keita’s very existence in Freedom State is illegal. As he trains in secret, eluding capture, the stakes keep getting higher. Soon, he is running not only for his life, but for his sister’s life, too.

Defended by Olympic gold medallist and philanthropist Clara Hughes, The Illegal won Canada Reads 2016, and is being adapted by Conquering Lion Pictures into an eight-part television miniseries with CBC TV.


The Illegal is published by HarperCollinsCanada, and by W.W. Norton & Company in the United States.

“Go Home.”

The words came from the runner on Keita’s left. White, and surely from Freedom State. Limp brown hair, flopping as he ran.  Arms too high. Choppy gait. Running was the smoothest dance in the world. Keita had been trained to picture his own legs like wheels. He had learned to strike with his feet soundlessly, transfer weight through the balls of his feet, roll off the toes and spend more time flying than earthbound. Anybody could run, but few with grace. This competitor ran as if his tires weren’t inflated. Keita didn’t say a word. Didn’t acknowledge that he spoke or understood English. He just kept running.
The runner on his shoulder said it again. “Go. Fucking. Home.”
A rude man. He deserved to suffer. Keita bumped up the pace. Sooner or later, the obnoxious fellow would start to hurt. The name of the game was to inflict more pain than he felt. So Keita – a stranger in a strange land whose only transgression was to exist in a place where his presence was illegal – would use speed to break this man.