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Lawrence Hill's The Illegal set for CBC-TV

Canadian author Lawrence Hill's The Illegal will become an eight-part TV miniseries, following the path of his earlier work, The Book of Negroes.

CBC has teamed up with Toronto-based production company Conquering Lion Pictures to develop Hill's latest novel for television. 

The first draft of the first episode has already been completed, with additional episodes to be written in the coming months, the award-winning author — currently on a book tour in British Columbia — told CBC News by email. 

Published in 2015, the critically acclaimed fictional saga centres on a marathon runner, as it examines the struggle of undocumented refugees in a dystopian future, with themes of race, discrimination and politics woven throughout.

The Illegal also recently made headlines for winning the CBC's annual book battle, Canada Reads. The Book of Negroes previously captured that title as well.

The Illegal book cover

The Illegal looks at the struggle of undocumented refugees, set in a dystopian world in the year 2018.

"The plight of refugees is one of the most pressing humanitarian crises of the 21st century, and I can't think of a more exciting and important subject to explore and dramatize in a television miniseries," Hill said.

Canadian director, writer and Conquering Lion partner Clement Virgo will direct the new series, further building on his experience with Hill.

Last year, he helmed the adaptation of Hill's 2007 award-winning novel, The Book of Negroes, for CBC TV and BET in the U.S.

"It was the experience of a lifetime to work with director Clement Virgo and with executive producer Damon D'Oliveira in adapting The Book of Negroes to a CBC-TV miniseries, to visit the film sets in South Africa and Nova Scotia, and to see the project reach millions of Canadians," Hill said.

"I'm delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate again."

The Book of Negroes six-part miniseries premiered to record breaking numbers in 2015 and won nine trophies at the 2016 Canadian Screen Awards in March. It also recently earned a Peabody Award nomination in the U.S..

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