“Beautifully written, impeccably researched, and told with the air of suspense that few writers can handle, Wastelands is a story I wish I had written.” — From the Forward by John Grisham

Corban Addison is the international bestselling author of four novels, A Walk Across the Sun, The Garden of Burning Sand, The Tears of Dark Water, and A Harvest of Thorns, and one work of narrative nonfiction, Wastelands: The True Story of Farm Country on Trial. His books have been published in more than twenty-five countries and have won multiple awards. They address some of today’s most pressing issues of justice and human rights.

Corban holds a law degree from the University of Virginia and an engineering degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. After completing a judicial clerkship, he spent six years trying cases in the courtroom before turning to writing full-time. He is a supporter of numerous causes, including environmental justice and the abolition of modern slavery. He lives with his wife and children in Virginia.

Corban's Featured Titles

Wastelands: The True Story of Farm Country on Trial

Knopf |

“Beautifully written, impeccably researched, and told with the air of suspense that few writers can handle, Wastelands is a story I wish I had written.” —From the Foreword by John Grisham

The once idyllic coastal plain of North Carolina is home to a close-knit, rural community that for more than a generation has battled the polluting practices of large-scale farming taking place in its own backyard. After years of frustration and futility, an impassioned cadre of local residents, led by a team of intrepid and dedicated lawyers, filed a lawsuit against one of the world’s most powerful companies—and, miraculously, they won.

As vivid and fast-paced as a thriller, Wastelands takes us into the heart of a legal battle over the future of America’s farmland and into the lives of the people who found the courage to fight.

There is Elsie Herring, the most outspoken of the neighbors, who has endured racial slurs and the threat of a restraining order to tell the story of the waste raining down on her rooftop from the hog operation next door. There is Don Webb, a larger-than-life hog farmer turned grassroots crusader, and Rick Dove, a riverkeeper and erstwhile military judge who has pioneered the use of aerial photography to document the scale of the pollution. There is Woodell McGowan, a quiet man whose quest to redeem his family’s ancestral land encourages him to become a better neighbor, and Dr. Steve Wing, a groundbreaking epidemiologist whose work on the health effects of hog waste exposure translates the neighbors’ stories into the argot of science. And there is Tom Butler, an environmental savant and hog industry insider whose whistleblowing testimony electrifies the jury.

Fighting alongside them in the courtroom is Mona Lisa Wallace, who broke the gender barrier in her small southern town and built a storied legal career out of vanquishing corporate giants, and Mike Kaeske, whose trial skills are second to none.

With journalistic rigor and a novelist’s instinct for story, Corban Addison’s Wastelands captures the inspiring struggle to bring a modern-day monopoly to its knees, to force a once-invincible corporation to change, and to preserve the rights—and restore the heritage—of a long-suffering community.

A Harvest of Thorns

Thomas Nelson |

A beloved American corporation with an explosive secret. A disgraced former journalist looking for redemption. And a corporate executive with nothing left to lose.

In Dhaka, Bangladesh, a garment factory burns to the ground, claiming the lives of hundreds of workers, mostly young women. Amid the rubble, a bystander captures a heart-stopping photograph—a teenage girl lying in the dirt, her body broken by a multi-story fall, and over her mouth a mask of fabric bearing the label of one of America’s largest retailers, Presto Omnishops Corporation.

Eight thousand miles away at Presto’s headquarters in Virginia, Cameron Alexander, the company’s long-time general counsel, watches the media coverage in horror, wondering if the damage can be contained. When the photo goes viral, fanning the flames of a decades-old controversy about sweatshops, labor rights, and the ethics of globalization, he launches an investigation into the disaster that will reach further than he could ever imagine—and threaten everything he has left in the world.

A year later in Washington DC, Joshua Griswold, a disgraced former journalist from the Washington Post, receives an anonymous summons from a corporate whistleblower who offers him confidential information about Presto and the fire. For Griswold, the challenge of exposing Presto’s culpability is irresistible, as is the chance, however slight, at redemption. Deploying his old journalistic skills, he builds a historic case against Presto, setting the stage for a war in the courtroom and in the media that Griswold is determined to win—both to salvage his reputation and to provoke a revolution in Presto’s boardroom that could transform the fashion industry across the globe.

The Tears of Dark Water

Thomas Nelson |

A sailing trip meant to save a family in crisis. A nightmare hostage situation with modern-day pirates. And an FBI negotiator faced with memories of his own family tragedy.

Daniel and Vanessa Parker are an American success story. He is a Washington, DC, power broker, and she is a physician with a thriving practice. But behind the gilded façade, their marriage is in shambles, and their teenage son, Quentin, is self-destructing. In desperation, Daniel dusts off a long-delayed dream—a sailing trip around the world. Little does he know, the voyage he hopes will save his family may destroy it instead.

Half a world away on the lawless coast of Somalia, Ismail Adan Ibrahim is living a life of crime in violation of everything he was raised to believe—except for the love and loyalty driving him to hijack ships for ransom and plot the rescue of his sister, Yasmin, from the man who murdered their father. There is nothing he will not do to save her, even if it means taking innocent lives.

Paul Derrick is the FBI’s top hostage negotiator. His twin sister, Megan, is a celebrated defense attorney. They have reached the summit of their careers by savvy, grit, and a secret determination to escape the memory of the day their family died. When Paul is dispatched to handle a hostage crisis at sea, he has no idea how far it will take him and Megan into the past—or the chance it will give them to redeem the future.

Across continents and oceans, through storms and civil wars, the paths of these individuals converge in a single, explosive moment. It is a moment that will test them and break them, but it will also leave behind an unexpected glimmer of hope—that out of the ashes of tragedy and misfortune, the seeds of justice and reconciliation can grow.

The Garden of Burning Sand

Quercus |

The New York Times bestselling author John Hart raved that “If you like stories of good people struggling to do right in the world’s forgotten places, there is no one better suited than Corban Addison to take you on the ride of your life.” In The Garden of Burning Sand, Addison, the bestselling author of A Walk Across the Sun, creates a powerful and poignant novel that takes the reader from the red light areas of Lusaka, Zambia, to the gilded chambers of the Washington, D.C. elite, to the splendor of Victoria Falls and Cape Town.

Zoe Fleming, an accomplished young human rights attorney, has made a life for herself in Zambia, far from her estranged father–an American business mogul with presidential aspirations–and from the devastating betrayals of her past.

When a young girl with Down syndrome is sexually assaulted in a Lusaka slum, Zoe joins Zambian police officer Joseph Kabuta in investigating the rape. Piecing together clues from the victim’s past, they discover an unsettling connection between the girl–Kuyeya–and a powerful Zambian family who will stop at nothing to bury the truth.

As they are drawn deeper into the complex web of characters behind this appalling crime, Zoe and Joseph forge a bond of trust and friendship that slowly transforms into love. Opposed on all sides, they find themselves caught in a dangerous clash between the forces of justice and power. To successfully prosecute Kuyeya’s attacker and build a future with Joseph, Zoe must risk her life and her heart–and confront the dark past she thought she had left behind.

A Walk Across the Sun

Quercus |

Corban Addison’s debut novel, A Walk Across the Sun, made waves when it was first published, called “pulse-revving with a serious message,” by Othe Oprah magazine. John Grisham said, “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.” A trained lawyer committed to the cause of advancing international human rights and abolishing modern slavery, Addison has written a novel that enlightens while it entertains; A Walk Across the Sun brings together three of Addison’s great passions—storytelling, human rights, and the world’s many cultures.

Ahalya Ghai and her younger sister Sita are as close as sisters can be. But when a tsunami rips through their coastal village, their home is swept away, and the sisters are the sole survivors of their family. Destitute, their only hope is to find refuge at a convent many miles away. A driver agrees to take them. But the moment they get into that car their fate is sealed. The two sisters—confused, alone, totally reliant on each other—are sold.

On the other side of the world, Washington lawyer Thomas Clarke is struggling to cope after the death of his baby daughter and the collapse of his marriage. He takes a sabbatical from his high-pressure job and accepts a position with the Bombay branch of an international anti-trafficking group. Thomas is now on a desperate path to try and save not only himself and his marriage, but also the lives of the two sisters.


Food, Race, and Money: The Story of Wastelands

Between 2013 and 2020, more than five hundred residents of rural eastern North Carolina—most of them Black people of modest means—fought to hold the world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, accountable in court for polluting their air, their water, and their ancestral land for more than a generation. This is the story that Corban Addison chronicles in his award-winning book, Wastelands.

The story of Wastelands is a triumph of human courage and persistence in the face of insurmountable odds, and also an untold civil rights story that resonates with America’s current reckoning on race. It is a story that exposes the shadow side of agribusiness, the dangers of corporate capture in state legislatures, the challenge of holding rich and powerful industries to account in the courts, and the true cost of one of America’s favorite breakfast foods—bacon.

In a visually rich presentation, complete with video footage and animations from five federal trials, Corban Addison tells an all-American story about the intersection of food, race, and money, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at a landmark war in the courtroom that brought a once invincible industry to its knees.


A Harvest of Thorns: The True Cost of Fast Fashion

Every year, global consumers spend $3 trillion on fashion—from high-end couture to bargain-basement bling. But where do the things we love to buy and wear come from? Who stitched the fabric together, sewed on the buttons and zippers, and brought the garments to life? And at what cost to the natural environment?

The true cost of fast fashion is something the biggest brands try very hard to hide. Only a few, like Patagonia, are honest about the human rights abuses and environmental degradation woven into the very fabric of most of our clothing. Global supply chains are enormously complex. The laws governing overseas manufacturing are weak and badly enforced. And the constant drive to maximize profits encourages even the best businesspeople to look away. At day’s end, it’s simply cheaper to exploit garment workers in Bangladesh and Malaysia and destroy river systems in China than it is to protect communities and ecosystems half a world away.

The modern fashion industry is a harvest of thorns. Corban Addison tells the story of that industry through the eyes of the people he met around the world. He also proposes practical solutions to clean up fashion and slow it down, from corporate social responsibility to impact investing and conscientious consumerism.


A Walk Across the Sun: The Human Face of Modern Slavery

More people are enslaved today than at any other time in history. Yet their bondage is invisible to us, buried deep in global supply chains and hidden in plain sight on our streets and in our communities.

The victims of forced labor work in brothels in India and Cambodia and garment factories in Malaysia and Vietnam. They mine gold and rare earth minerals in the Congo, raise cattle in Brazil, harvest coffee and cocoa in Côte d’Ivoire, construct skyscrapers and soccer stadiums in Qatar, catch fish in Ghana and Thailand, produce pornography in Russia, and make toys in China. They also perform seasonal migrant labor in orange groves in Florida and strawberry fields in California, and offer sexual services by way of pimps and online platforms everywhere in the United States.

In telling the story behind his internationally bestselling debut novel, A Walk Across the Sun, Corban Addison puts a human face on modern slavery, and invites his audience to become 21st Century abolitionists, to engage the issue as voters and citizen advocates, and to minimize their own slavery footprint as consumers.


The Tears of Dark Water: Piracy, Violent Extremism, and the Challenge of Somalia

The crime of piracy has long been the scourge of the high seas. In the first decade of the 21st Century, however, it took on new dimension, as young Somalis armed with Soviet-era rifles and motivated by extreme poverty and daredevil courage launched skiffs into the Gulf of Aden, a gateway for one-tenth of the world’s trade, and deeper into the Arabian sea, to capture cargo ships and sailing vessels and hold them for ransom.

In 2013, Corban Addison followed in their footsteps, exploring the true story of the hijacking of the American sailing vessel Quest. After attending the federal death penalty trial of the hijackers in Virginia and befriending a man who was the FBI’s top international hostage negotiator, he went on a 49-day, 45,000-mile research odyssey to Arabia and the Horn of Africa. He sailed in the Seychelles, landed on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier at sea, discussed counter-piracy tactics with the captain of the U.S.S. Gettysburg while transiting the Strait of Hormuz, visited refugee areas outside Mogadishu, Somalia and Dadaab, Kenya under guard, and collected the stories of love and loss offered by Somalis who had been displaced by the 25-year civil war and driven to the edge of human experience, yet who still harbored a glimmer of hope that their country might regain its former status as “the Jewel of the Indian Ocean.”

In telling the unforgettable story behind his award-winning novel, The Tears of Dark Water, Corban Addison offers a unique and deeply personal perspective of the problem of piracy and the challenge of Somalia, a country most of the world considers a failed state. He also explores the human impact of violent crime, the dehumanizing consequences for its perpetrators, and the thorny moral tension between retribution and forgiveness.


The Mirror & The Prism: Telling Stories that Changes the World

There is a reason we use storytelling to shape the moral imagination of our children. Story is the universal language, the lingua franca shared by all human beings across time. A story is both a mirror and a prism, reflecting back to us different facets of ourselves, and offering us a novel lens through which to perceive the world.

Stories invite us to see ourselves in the faces of strangers, to walk a mile or two in the shoes of someone we might never have occasion to meet. Stories also encourage us to embrace compassion for the poor and marginalized, the oppressed and exploited, even if they are vastly different from us in culture, history, and creed. Indeed, a well-told story is the most effective engine of empathy creation humans have ever conceived.

It is this vision that has animated Corban Addison’s storytelling from the beginning. It has led him to the furthest reaches of the earth and into some of humanity’s darkest corners, from brothels in India to slums in Southern Africa to refugee camps in Somalia and Kenya and into the tenement houses of garment makers who jumped out of the upper-story windows of a Bangladeshi factory to escape a raging fire while making clothes for U.S. brands.

Corban brings all of these stories to life while exploring the nature of storytelling itself—its soul, its purposes, and its unique power to transform the human heart, and by that to change the world.

Corban’s Events

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Wastelands won the Reed Environmental Writing Award in 2023
Amazon Editor’s Pick: Best Books of 2022 So Far
The Tears of Dark Water won the inaugural Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Award in 2016
A Walk Across the Sun was short-listed for the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2012
A number of books have been international bestsellers

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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