Illegal by Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin – a powerful graphic novel that highlights the plight of immigrants

Illegal is a graphic novel written by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, (illustrated by Giovanni Rigano) about one boy’s journey from Africa to Europe. Although fictional, it is based on the real struggles that thousands of immigrants experience each year as they flee their home countries in search of safer lives.

The Guardian said:

A kind of documentary fiction, the book weaves real stories of migration into the tale of Ebo, a spirited, motherless 12-year-old from Niger who follows his older brother from his hopeless village to the city of Agadez, where traffickers take them across the Sahara to Tripoli. Here, the boys again put their lives in the hands of nefarious men, who grant them space on a boat heading for to Italy. The story comes alive in the details: at his lowest ebb, Ebo lucks upon a packet of antiseptic wipes that he can trade, one by one, for food. One of his fellow voyagers, a Chelsea FC obsessive, jokes about becoming a World Service commentator (see how these boys are just like our own?).

Although aimed at children, I know plenty of adults who would benefit from reading this book; they, too, need to see the human stories behind the right-wing media headlines that aim to somehow position immigrants as the “enemies” of our country. I reckon our politicians should be forced to read this, too.


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