Oglethorpe English professor Justin Haynes publishes first full-length novel

Associate Professor of English Justin Haynes has published his first full-length novel, “Ibis,” a story of immigration, community and the bond between mothers and daughters.

Set in Haynes’s home country of Trinidad, “Ibis” follows the journey of young Venezuelan refugee Milagros, who is harbored by the residents of the fictional coastal town “New Felicity” just as the country adopts a hard stance against asylum seekers like her. The anti-immigration government looms large over the small community and the recent murder of a local witch has the superstitious residents on edge. Worse, an American journalist has just arrived in town asking questions. As events unfold and tensions rise, the story jumps backward and forward in time, giving readers a glimpse into the townsfolks’ lives and Milagros’s fraught search for her birth mother.

Associate Professor of English Justin Haynes

Associate Professor of English Justin Haynes

For Haynes, it was important to tell a story about issues that immigrants face around the globe—not just in America.

“When people think about undocumented immigration in the Western Hemisphere, they tend to default to the crisis at the U.S. Southern border,” says Haynes. “This clearly deserves attention, but there are so many people in dire straits moving from their home countries throughout the Caribbean and South America, and I really wanted to shine a light on this plight.”

Haynes teaches English and creative writing courses at Oglethorpe. Just last year, he helped produce the first Oglethorpe Out Loud poetry event, a new event at the university that welcomed a prominent poet to campus for a reading and a special class with Oglethorpe’s student writers.

His writing has been published in various literary magazines and journals, including “Caribbean Quarterly,” “SX Salon Small Axe Project,” and “Pree.”  “Ibis” represents an exciting milestone in Haynes’s writing career, and he is eager to share the experience of the publishing process with Oglethorpe students.

“If I were to provide a single piece of advice for any writer, it would be to have a clear vision for one’s project. In my experience, vision feeds passion, and both are essential for what can be a stony path to publishing,” he says.

“Ibis” is available now for pre-order and will be released in February 2025.

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