By Lauren Wilkinson
A black female spy goes undercover in Cold War-era Africa in this electrifying debut novel of race, loyalty, espionage, and love, inspired by true events
"My most important secret--and this is how I met my sons' father--is that I was once a spy."
It's 1986, the heart of the Cold War, and Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She's brilliant and talented, but she's also a black woman working in an all-white boys' club, and her career has stalled with routine paperwork--until she's recruited to a shadowy task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the charismatic, revolutionary president of Burkina Faso, whose Communist ideology has made him a target for American intervention.
In the year that follows, Marie will observe Thomas, seduce him, and ultimately, have a hand in the coup that will bring him down. But doing so will change everything she believes about what it means to be a spy, a lover, and a good American.
Inspired by true events--Thomas Sankara is known as "Africa's Che Guevara," but his story is not widely known in the United States--this novel is sweeping historical fiction with an enthralling espionage thriller at its core, and introduces a powerful new literary voice.
Lauren Wilkinson grew up in New York City and lives in the Lower East Side. She earned her MFA in Fiction and Literary Translation from Columbia University and has taught writing at Columbia and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She has received writing fellowships from the Center for Fiction and the MacDowell Colony, and her fiction has appeared in Granta.
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- Publication date:
04 Jul 2019
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Echoing the stoic cynicism of Hurston and Ellison, and the verve of Conan Doyle, American Spy lays our complicities-political, racial, and sexual-bare. Packed with unforgettable characters, it's a stunning book, timely as it is timeless. — Paul Beatty, Man Booker Prizewinning author of The Sellout
'American Spy is by turns suspenseful, tender, and funny, always smart and searingly honest. Lauren Wilkinson renders the world of spies with vivacity and depth, and shines a penetrating light on what it's like to be a black woman in America. But like all great novels, this one teaches us most about ourselves and our values.' — Sara Novic, author of Girl at War
'This unflinching debut combines the espionage novels of John le Carré with the racial complexity of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man' — Publishers Weekly