Keita Ali has nothing: no bank account, no papers, no legal identity. A runner, he has fled home— a brutal dictatorship that produces the world' s fastest marathoners— to live as an illegal refugee in a wealthy western nation, surviving on winnings from local races. But the government is cracking down on illegal immigrants, so Keita— who will be executed if he is deported to his homeland— goes underground. Now, a series of crises call for him to earn quick money: an unscrupulous businessman targets him, a serious health problem erupts, and, most troublingly, officials in Keita' s native country kidnap his sister, threatening to execute her unless he pays a ransom. As Keita struggles to resolve these problems, he discovers a troubling political connection between his native and his adopted country. The Illegal is a rich, riveting novel that weaves a complex moral and psychological web.