“Since my first novel was released over 20 years ago, I have been presented with many opportunities to endorse the works of other authors hoping to find a publisher. I have always declined, until now. Corban Addison has written a novel that is beautiful in its story and also important in its message. A Walk Across the Sun deserves a wide audience. And I strongly suspect that Mr. Addison will be heard from again and again.”
Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day—a chance to bring attention to this destructive worldwide phenomenon. While discussing human trafficking can be difficult and disturbing, author Corban Addison chose to use his debut novel, A Walk Across the Sun, to shed light on both the horrors and hope that this human rights struggle presents.
In this exclusive guest blog post, Addison shares why he’s so passionate about this cause, reflects on his experiences meeting human trafficking victims, and details how those relationships have changed his life.
Modern Slavery: The Underside of Civilization
At the tip of Isle de la Cite in Paris is a park overlooking the divided waters of the Seine. In the bright sunlight of a spring morning, it is hard to conceive that girls from Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia are imprisoned across the city, dreading the approach of night and the clients who will rape them.
In the vibrant heart of Portland, Oregon, one of America’s most progressive cities, is the world’s largest independent bookstore. Walking the stacks through a treasury of wisdom and learning, it is difficult to fathom that underage girls from across the U.S. are being marketed for sex on the city’s streets and through the Internet.
But disbelief cannot dispel the truth.
According to experts, there are 27 million slaves in the world today, more than ever before. Of those, at least 2 million are children exploited in the sex trade. Human trafficking touches just about everywhere and is as virulent in the West as in the developing world. Look at the skyline of any city and chances are that somewhere in the shadows are slaves.
I came to the trafficking subject slowly—first in law school through human rights groups and later through film and personal experience. I never anticipated that I would write a novel on the topic. As is often the case, my wife was wiser than I. When she gave me the idea, I saw the promise in it. And with her support I took a leap of faith, carving out time to research, travel, and write.
My journey was often lonely and routinely disturbing. I spent months immersing myself in the trafficking literature and interviewing authorities in the U.S. and Europe. Afterward, I went to India and saw the reality of slavery with my own eyes: in a brothel walled off to the world, girls lined up in front of me, thinking I was there to purchase them, not to tell their story.
When I returned home, I understood the challenge I faced. I knew that to bring human trafficking alive for a broad audience, I had to write a novel that would balance undeniable truth with unconquerable hope. After all, the eye can only stare so long into darkness before it turns away, desperate for the light.
There were naysayers along the way, people who told me that in times like these readers wouldn’t be interested in a novel on such a troubling subject. But far more numerous were the beautiful souls who exhorted me that the stories of the girls I met in Mumbai and their sisters around the globe needed to be told; that readers could not only handle such a story but would be compelled by it.
I chose to heed the voice of faith. Now as then, I am convinced that slavery is not an issue for activists alone; it is an issue that all of us must confront. For the serial rape of women and children for profit is not a phenomenon confined to dark alleys in the developing world. It is here, on our streets, all around us. And if there is a solution—and I am confident there is—we are the ones who must care enough to find it.
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