American Spy (Paperback)
  • American Spy (Paperback)
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American Spy (Paperback)

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£9.99
Paperback 304 Pages
Published: 16/07/2020
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Waterstones Says

An intelligent and utterly original take on a Cold War espionage thriller, American Spy charts the path of a talented young black FBI agent, sent on a mission to spy and seduce a charismatic leader. 

A Barack Obama Summer Reading Pick
Shortlisted for the 2019 Centre for Fiction First Novel Prize

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

It's 1986, the heart of the Cold War. 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.

Publisher: Dialogue
ISBN: 9780349700984
Number of pages: 304
Weight: 210 g
Dimensions: 196 x 126 x 22 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

A whole lot more than just a spy thriller, wrapping together the ties of family, of love and of country - Barack Obama

American Spy updates the espionage thriller with blazing originality - Entertainment Weekly

A fresh perspective. Marie Mitchell, a black female spy, goes on a mission to track down Thomas Sankara, the African Che Guevara, and has to choose between love, her family and her country - Sunday Times

This debut gives a distinctive spin on the spy novel . . . A compelling read - Mail on Sunday

Wilkinson paints a convincing and lively portrait of this fascinating real-life figure. A non-privileged protagonist in this poshest of genres is rare enough to make that the USP, but by any standards this is a fine thriller, thoughtful and dryly witty, richly textured and, when required, pacy and very exciting - Daily Telegraph

A novel that will snatch your summer away. There has never been anything like it, and not because of the Black female spy telling the story, but the kind of story it is: espionage thriller, African political drama, wild romance and doomed family epic - Marlon James, GQ

If your idea of a cold war thriller is a 'white saviour' hero with conservative values rescuing the world from the Soviet menace, think again: American Spy, Lauren Wilkinson's intelligent and pacy debut set against the background of a real coup d'état, injects new life into this tired formula . . . this is a complex, powerful story of divided loyalties, double consciousness and moral ambiguity - Guardian

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 Prize-winning author of The Sellout

An intelligent and propulsive debut tackles issues of politics, race, gender and moral ambiguity in a tale of espionage that moves between black FBI agent Marie Mitchell's 1960s New York childhood, her involvement in the 1987 Burkina Faso coup d'etat as a CIA operative and her retreat to Martinique in 1992 - Guardian

It might seem hyperbolic to say that this book is riveting and thrilling from the very first page, except that it totally is. . . . It's a refreshing take on an espionage story . . . that's sexy and suspenseful in equal measure - Marie Claire

The genre-breaking spy story . . . If this isn't made into a film/HBO series then there's something wrong with the world. Written with verve and detail, this is a fantastic thriller that explores the black experience in Reagan's America, the personal vs political of serving your country and just who is on the side of righteousness - Stylist

So much fun... Like the best of John le Carré, it's extremely tough to put down - NPR

Mitchell is an engaging, complex protagonist: feisty and brave but also vulnerable. The story is told in the first person; Wilkinson takes us inside Mitchell's head, which is an interesting place to be. The scenes of New York and African life are sharply observed, the narrative often lyrical. This is an impressive debut, with a multi-faceted and engaging protagonist - Financial Times

For the novel's engaging intelligence and serious reckoning with the world's postwar order, Wilkinson deserves the comparisons to John le Carré she's already receiving. But in bringing a virtually unheard-from fictional viewpoint to espionage literature, she has reinvigorated the genre - Time

A gutsy new thriller . . . challenging boundaries is what brave fiction does, and Wilkinson proves confident enough to carry it off - New York Times

Lauren Wilkinson reminds us of a less-covered side of the Cold War with her debut set in 1986 Africa. FBI agent Marie Mitchell is stationed in Burkina Faso, and when she's assigned to shadow Thomas Sankara, 'Africa's Che Guevara,' the personal, political and professional collide for her in unforgettable ways - Washington Post

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

The endurance of the Mitchell family is inspiring, and their portrayal is vivid and sound. With American Spy the plot is gentler than other books you may read under the espionage genre. This serves as an effective and thoughtful book tackling less James-Bond style action, instead focusing on the more grounded issues of gender and racial divisions that still exist today - Magic FM (Book club)

A most unusual espionage story . . . An exciting historical thriller is combined with a novel about whether a black woman can be a 'good American' as well as true to herself - Morning Star

Lauren Wilkinson's debut, American Spy, is a spy novel with a difference. Wilkinson brilliantly recreates the confusions, anarchy and self-contradiction of the US's clandestine involvement in African affairs - Irish Times

This is a true thriller of a read from Lauren Wilkinson - Pride Magazine

A smart page-turner that gives the genre a welcome shot in the arm - The i

Written with considerable grace and insight, this is a remarkable and groundbreaking spy thriller - Irish Independent

American Spy is unusual, intelligent, compassionate and thoroughly original - Shots magazine

[In] this genre-defying novel . . . Marie's journey into the moral and spiritual morass of espionage is inventive . . . Unlike the heroes of John Le Carré's novels, Marie must also grapple with the cognitive dissonance of serving a country in which she is regarded as a second-class citizen - Vulture (Best Books of 2019 So Far)

[A] romantically offbeat mix of fiction and fact - Peterborough Evening Telegraph

This unflinching debut combines the espionage novels of John le Carré with the racial complexity of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man - Publishers Weekly

An extraordinary debut . . . a truly impressive, suspenseful bit of work - The Tablet

An often challenging but rewarding read that'll keep you taut and on your toes from a range of angles - Sunday Sport

Wilkinson paints a convincing and lively portrait of this fascinating real-life figure . . . [American Spy is] a fine thriller, thoughtful and drily witty, richly textured and, when required, pacy and very exciting - Telegraph

Spy fiction plus allegory, and a splash of pan-Africanism. What could go wrong? As it happens, very little. Clever, bracing, darkly funny and really, really good - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Lauren Wilkinson reclaimed the espionage thriller with her gripping, pawky American Spy, which has an African-American heroine instead of the usual posh, white men - Telegraph (Best crime novels and thrillers to buy for Christmas)

Sexism and racism complicate Cold War and familial secrets in this unusual and fast-paced debut - The Times (Best Thriller Books of 2019)

Unusual and fast-paced - The Times (Best thriller books of 2019)

Often, spy thrillers evoke familiar comforts, if also images of dusty covers and yellowed pages. But Lauren Wilkinson, while returning to a classic era (the Cold War), manages to reinvigorate the genre by following a character we haven't seen before - TIME

Blending fact and fiction, this intelligent and fresh take on the spy genre tackles race, loyalty and American politics - Sunday Times Crime Club (Crime books of the year)

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miss.mesmerized

“Lauren Wilkinson – American Spy”

When one night a man breaks into her New York apartment and tries to kill her, Marie knows that it is time to flee and to take her twin boys out of the country since they will not be secure there anymore. As a former... More

Hardback edition
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“How the CIA works and it's not pretty! It's a good story though!”

Marie Mitchell is a spy and, right at the start of the novel, she is forced to flee from her mother's house in Martinique to escape from other elements of the intelligence community which need her dead. The novel... More

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Helpful? Upvote 51

“From New York to Burkina Faso”

Just finished this. American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson. Picked it up because it was one of Barack Obama's best books of 2019. It tackles the tribulations of a young black woman as she struggles to make it in the... More

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Helpful? Upvote 48

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