American Spy: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Description


“[This] unflinching, incendiary debut combines the espionage novels of John le Carré with the racial complexity of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

What if your sense of duty required you to betray the man you love? 


It’s 1986, the heart of the Cold War, and Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She’s brilliant, but she’s also a young black woman working in an old boys’ club. Her career has stalled out, she’s overlooked for every high-profile squad, and her days are filled with monotonous paperwork. So when she’s given the opportunity to join 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, she says yes. Yes, even though she secretly admires the work Sankara is doing for his country. Yes, even though she is still grieving the mysterious death of her sister, whose example led Marie to this career path in the first place. Yes, even though a furious part of her suspects she’s being offered the job because of her appearance and not her talent.

In the year that follows, Marie will observe Sankara, 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, a sister, and a good American.

Inspired by true events—Thomas Sankara is known as “Africa’s Che Guevara”—American Spy knits together a gripping spy thriller, a heartbreaking family drama, and a passionate romance. This is a face of the Cold War you’ve never seen before, and it introduces a powerful new literary voice.

Advance praise for American Spy

“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 Nović, author of Girl at War

About the Author


Lauren Wilkinson earned an MFA in fiction and literary translation from Columbia University, and has taught writing at Columbia and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She was a 2013 Center for Fiction Emerging Writers Fellow, and has also received support from the MacDowell Colony and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. Wilkinson grew up in New York and lives on the Lower East Side. This is her first novel.

Praise For…


“[Lauren] Wilkinson’s unflinching, incendiary debut combines the espionage novels of John le Carré with the racial complexity of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. . . . [American Spy] is certain to make Wilkinson’s name as one of the most engaging and perceptive young writers working today. . . . As refreshing as it is revelatory.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“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 Nović, author of Girl at War

“What does it do to a person to work for a country that doesn’t work for her? Lauren Wilkinson’s unforgettable protagonist thrillingly forges her own way through the tangles of patriotism, service, love, and loyalty in this extraordinary novel.”—Lydia Kiesling, author of The Golden State
 
“Like all secret agents, Lauren Wilkinson is a keen observer, capable of gathering real intelligence. American Spy is a trenchant commentary on race and gender in America, disguised as a spy thriller.”—Elliott Holt, author of You Are One of Them
 
“[Lauren Wilkinson] navigates the psychic and physical terrain of this tale of divided loyalties with the poise of such classic masters as Eric Ambler and Graham Greene spiked with late-twentieth-century black American intellectual history.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Appealing in its insightful characterizations, well-plotted action, and rich settings, this should find a large audience.”Booklist (starred review)
 
“Suspenseful . . . This story of espionage, told from the perspective of a woman of color, doesn’t gloss over how family and personal relationships, as well as institutional racism and chauvinism, complicate a career in secret intelligence, raising questions about U.S. involvement in developing countries and the obstacles faced by women and minorities in law enforcement. Should be a popular book club selection.”Library Journal (starred review)

American Spy refuses to shy away from the intermingled complexities of gender, race, politics, and history, but its ideas never overpower its richly and lovingly drawn characters. An absorbing, energetic, brilliant spy novel—and so much more.”—Jamel Brinkley, author of A Lucky Man
Product Details
ISBN: 9780812998955
ISBN-10: 0812998952
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: February 12th, 2019
Pages: 304
Language: English