Lauren Wilkinson

12 Oct 2019
10:00 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.
Church of the Redeemer

Lauren Wilkinson

Lauren Wilkinson earned an M.F.A. 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.


During the heart of the Cold War in 1986, Marie Mitchell is an FBI intelligence officer. She’s brilliant, but she’s also a young black woman working in an old boys’ club. Overlooked for every high-profile squad, her career has stalled, and she spends her days completing monotonous paperwork.

So, when she’s asked 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 death of her sister, whose example led Marie to this career. Yes, even though she suspects she’s being offered the job because of her appearance and not her talent.

Her participation in the task force changes 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 spy thriller, family drama, and a passionate romance. Named one of the best books of 2019, not only is American Spy a page-turner, but it also introduces a powerful new literary voice.

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