Lawrence Hill

University of Guelph professor Lawrence Hill will see his award-winning novel The Illegal made into a television miniseries.

CBC-TV confirmed this week plans to air an eight-part series based on the book.

Hill, who will begin teaching creative writing in the School of English and Theatre Studies in July, will serve as co-writer of the small-screen adaptation.

“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.

He will work with Toronto-based production company Conquering Lion, which adapted his best-known work, The Book of Negroes, into an award-winning miniseries aired in 2015.

Referring to that earlier project, he said, “It was the experience of a lifetime to work with director Clement Virgo and with executive producer Damon D’Oliveira, to visit the film sets in South Africa and Nova Scotia, and to see the project reach millions of Canadians.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate again with the CBC and with Damon and Clement in creating The Illegal miniseries.”

Hill and Virgo will spend the next several months writing and revising episodes; production details and dates have yet to be set.

Published in 2015, The Illegal examines the struggle of undocumented refugees through the eyes of a marathon runner.

The novel was selected this year for CBC’s Canada Reads, which also chose The Book of Negroes in 2009.

A member of the Order of Canada, Hill is chairing the jury for the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize, viewed as Canada’s top literary award.