REVIEW: ILLEGAL – BY UEA ALUMNUS, JOHN DENNEHY

by Hannah Rose

“All kinds of people are captured by nations and borders, and every one of them has a story to tell.”

The topic of immigration has been a defining feature of European politics in recent times. Between January 2015 and October 2016 around 7000 people were camped in ‘The Jungle’, Calais – in woodland, ditches and fields, waiting for an opportunity to leave mainland Europe and enter the UK. Of this 7000, 62% were young men under 40 of non-European origin, and, according to the Help Refugees census, 761 were children. The images of these young people living in appalling conditions, seeking any means possible to cross the Channel were broadcast on news streams around the world. The British tabloid press called them the “swarm”; an “influx”. When thousands of refugees fleeing conflicts in the Middle East broke through the Horgos border between Hungary and Croatia in September 2015, the Hungarian police used teargas and water cannons to keep them back. These examples tell us that when humans move en masse, they cease to be human in the eyes of the authorities and the sensationalist press. Our values — the border between kindness and cruelty — has been interrogated like never before in our generation.

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INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR AND UEA ALUMNUS JOHN DENNEHY

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by Hannah Rose

Your new book, Illegal, tells the story of your arrest and deportation from Ecuador and your consequent return over the Colombian border with the help of corrupt police. There’s also a love story which runs through it. Crime and love both sell books – was this thematic mix deliberate?

My original intent was to focus on borders and revolution but almost every person who read a draft, especially early on, wanted to know more about the love story. So I kept adding more with each new edit. We’ve all been in love so that shared experience makes it relatable and easier to digest. That common basis is a great launch pad to touch on everything else, too.Continue Reading