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Immigration is a hot topic these days—especially following the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. Bringing to light this important social issue—along with topics like human trafficking, desperation and seeing life through a different lens—is NC native and author EC Hanes, who’s new book, The Bus to Beulah, drops May 10 (catch him at a book signing at Quail Ridge Books on May 14!).
A heart-wrenching story, The Bus to Beulah is dedicated to subjects of immigration and local politics in order to bring attention to the uncomfortable but significant matters that we sometimes don’t want to talk about.
“It’s a societal problem,” said Hanes in an exclusive interview with Raleigh Magazine. “Society wants to pretend it’s something that it isn’t, and I always find it compelling to set a story within that idea.”
That story, set in Eastern North Carolina, is organized in an hour-by-hour structure, making it a thrilling and fast-paced novel. It introduces Maria Puente, a fictional character who discovers a human-trafficking ring in the midst of starting a new job in America and, after stumbling into the knowledge of the ring, is kidnapped.
While locals work together to try to find her, the county sheriff discovers many conditions of human and drug trafficking that were overlooked by dishonest or indifferent state officials. Because this is a very timely issue in the U.S., Hanes made an attempt to fit the topic into a story that is entertaining yet educational and eye-opening… and he’s undoubtedly succeeded.
“In The Bus to Beulah, Hanes skillfully zeroes in on what happens when our byzantine immigration laws, the powerful farmers’ lobby and local politics collide in bucolic North Carolina,” says The New York Times former executive director Howell Raines.
According to Hanes, an estimated 160,000 to 200,000 seasonal immigrant workers come to the U.S. for the agricultural and tourism industry every year, with North Carolina being one of the top states involved. Through his new book, Hanes hopes to not only tell an exciting story, but to educate the public about immigration workers in NC and the corruption behind the scenes—through a story and character that appeals to the hearts of North Carolinians.
“This is a story that is based on a lot of research on immigration, which is essential in NC and one of the biggest parts of our economy,” said Hanes. “Yet, if you took a poll, many people would say ‘keep [immigrants] out,’ but then we would have no food, few buildings… and everyone seems to look past that. Hopefully, if this is read and paid attention to, everyone will understand the critical role that immigrants play in our lives.” Barnes & Noble, local bookstores and online; echanes.com
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