“Tahmima Anam deftly uses humor to explore both start-up culture and the institution of marriage in an utterly charming and genuinely thoughtful way.” —Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind
Newlyweds Asha and Cyrus build an app that replaces religious rituals and soon find themselves running one of the most popular social media platforms in the world.
Meet Asha Ray.
Brilliant coder and possessor of a Pi tattoo, Asha is poised to revolutionize artificial intelligence when she is reunited with her high school crush, Cyrus Jones.
Cyrus inspires Asha to write a new algorithm. Before she knows it, she’s abandoned her PhD program, they’ve exchanged vows, and gone to work at an exclusive tech incubator called Utopia.
The platform creates a sensation, with millions of users seeking personalized rituals every day. Will Cyrus and Asha’s marriage survive the pressures of sudden fame, or will she become overshadowed by the man everyone is calling the new messiah?
In this gripping, blistering novel, award-winning author Tahmima Anam takes on faith and the future with a gimlet eye and a deft touch. Come for the radical vision of human connection, stay for the wickedly funny feminist look at startup culture and modern partnership. Can technology—with all its limits and possibilities—disrupt love?
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 62 members
This novel is unique and feels contemporary. So contemporary, in fact, that it even includes COVID-19! Overall I enjoyed this novel and think it weaves in multiple storylines well: we have the intersection of race and sex, tech start-ups, marriage and friendship in your 20s, as well as self-esteem and identity. There's nice pacing and good humor, and the plot is truly original. This is a personal taste issue, but I did find myself craving more direct action from the narrator in the middle of the book in terms of her acting on her frustrations or questions about Cyrus and his behavior. Overall, though, I still enjoyed the novel and definitely recommend it.
I throughly enjoyed this authors first book and eagerly devoured this offering. A contemporary novel, in every sense that tackles our current lives in the midst of this pandemic and how we connect with ourselves and each other. Brimming with dry wit, I couldn’t put this book down. Read this immediately.
Asha is a computer whiz and has the capability to create a program that can really blow the world away. She has a friend that is supportive and a husband that breathes life into her plan. This is where everything falls apart for her. I could not put the book down. I was interested in every page and every bit of the story. I hated that she was so forgiving of her husband and that his friend was so supportive. I didn't hate the writing - in fact, the author really made sure that you understood each step of the story, but also made the reader have a lot of emotions. In the end, I felt like the story tidied up well, however, I think what kept me involved was how irritated I was, at parts. I have definitely told friends to put this book on their list for 2021.
I absolutely loved this book! As a recent startup founder I found the dialogue and scenarios to be fairly accurate and quite humorous. Tahmima does a great job of establishing the characters and I felt I was able to connect and resonate with them. Her style of writing captivated me and kept me reading well past bedtime. The character of Asha demonstrates how men can easily wind up railroading women, even if that woman happens to be a spouse. There were many unexpected turns in this novel and I was seriously satisfied with how the story wrapped up. 5 out of 5 stars, great book!
"The Startup Wife" follows the story of three friend, Asha, Cyrus and Jules, who have developed an app based on AI using Cyrus's aptitude for creating specifically personal rituals. As the app becomes more well known, the three friends face moral and emotional dilemmas they could not have imagined. From the beginning, I found this book extremely engaging and enjoyable. It picked up quickly and by the time I was half-way through, I could not put it down. As far as main characters go, Asha was multi-dimensional and very likable. I also enjoyed seeing her progression as she grew older and more mature. As a side note: this book reminded me a lot of "An Absolutely Remarkable Thing" by Hank Green--if you have read and enjoyed that book you will most likely enjoy this book as well!
Wow! Warning before reading this book: you won’t want to put it down. The Startup Wife combines the emotions that come with first marriage with startup culture, providing a fresh perspective into a world that all too often focuses on single white men.
This book is simply brilliant, insightful, clever, and unlike anything I have ever read before. The premise of The Startup Wife pulled me in right away - two old high school friends, Asha and Cyrus, falling in love and starting a successful and revolutionary app that replaces religious rituals. Now not only are they facing the pressure of living and working together, but something much more; Asha had quit her PhD program to devote herself to this venture, but now Cyrus is seen by the world as the new messiah. This book is about the struggles of a changing love relationship in the world of startups, high-flying careers and fame. It's about modern technology replacing tradition in the digital era. It's about power struggles in marriage and in business. I flew through this book and still can't stop thinking about it. 5 stars. *Thank you to the Publisher for a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Quick synopsis: The Startup Wife follows Asha Ray, a smart, driven woman in STEM. She is working on how to make Artificial Intelligence more empathetic when she reunites with her crush from high school, Cyrus Jones, and his friend Jules. Cyrus is charismatic and spiritual, curating rituals such as weddings and funerals perfectly tailored to the people involved. As Asha and Cyrus fall in love, Asha gets an idea for a whole new type of social media. The three characters collectively build a platform called WAI from the ground up. WAI analyzes what matters most to you based on your likes and personality traits, and spits out a ritual you request. It also connects you to a community of people who feel the same way you do. Asha codes the platform, Jules does the business, and Cyrus is the face of the company. As the platform grows exponentially, Asha experiences the consequences of mixing business with pleasure. My takes on the book: This book really pulled me in and kept things interesting from the get go. Asha is extremely likable & I could really understand her thinking behind most decisions she made. The dialogue was extremely realistic, I felt like I was listening to friends of mine have conversations, which is rare for me as I can easily be put off by cheesy dialogue. Watching Cyrus’ slow slip from being a reluctant participant in WAI, to being depicted as an “Internet Messiah” and absolutely eating it up was like watching a train wreck in slow motion, that Anam crafted beautifully. This book tackled topics like AI, coding, and business, topics that I am less than familiar with, in a way that was interesting and easily understood. The reason I gave this book a 4 instead of a 5 is that sometimes I felt as though I was being told information about the characters instead of being shown. For example, towards the middle of the book Asha is going back and forth about how she feels about who Cyrus is becoming as WAI picks up steam, and what you see is Asha’s thoughts, not what Cyrus is doing to prompt them. I also felt like I wasn’t adequately introduced to some secondary characters in the Utopia, so I was sometimes confusing people. This book seemed all at once topical (even touching on the rise of COVID-19 towards the end of the book) & futuristic. The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam is definitely a book I would re-read one day and am sure I would catch nitty gritty details a second time around, and thoroughly enjoyed my time with. This book would be perfect for fans of the show Black Mirror.
Thank you to Scribner and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader's Copy! Available July 13th! Darkly humorous, Tahmima Anam's "The Startup Wife" is an interesting experiment with social media. When self conscious and sarcastic Asha Ray meets Cyrus, she can hardly predict the journey they will take together. Inspired by Cyrus's fascination with religion (think Pi from Life of Pi taken to the extreme), Ray designs a new social media platform, WAI, that tries to give others meaning to their lives. As WAI expands rapidly, Ray is confronted with the ultimate question - what is the meaning of her life? In some ways, "The Startup Wife" is a departure from Tahmima Anam's usual stories about life in Bangladesh. In other ways, though, the novel still features strong female protagonists, blistering social commentary and memorable dialogues. Reminiscent of Dave Egger's "The Circle," Anam's newest novel leaves the reader with a deep sense of unease about our growing technological dependence.
This was an interesting take on tech culture. The main character is a PhD at a very competitive program. She re-encounters her high school crush, Cyrus, and they quickly get married. Together with Cyrus's best friend, they decide to create a new tech company centered around rituals to feel spiritual needs in people's lives. After their company is accepted into an exclusive incubator, the company takes off -- with unexpected impacts on society and their own relationships. The relationship among the three main characters, and how they changed over time, was really interesting, and the way the author grappled with issues related to technology and social media kept me engaged. Recommended!
Most of The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam is set in Utopia. Utopia isn’t heaven. It is a place for startup companies to develop and become successful. Asha Ray sees her high school crush, Cyrus Jones. They begin a whirlwind romance, get married and develop an app based on an idea that Cyrus had about personalizing rituals. Asha is a brilliant coder and is the force behind the app. Cyrus is the face of the company. At first, he doesn’t have much involvement and then he has too much power. Cyrus publicly takes all of the credit for the app. Understandably, Asha feels betrayed when Cyrus excludes her from the company. Asha knows that Cyrus is not the mastermind behind the company and definitely not the messiah. She put so much faith in him and not enough faith in herself. She does everything to keep the company afloat in the beginning stages. Then Cyrus betrays her in such a harsh way. Will their marriage survive mixing business with their relationship? My favorite character is Destiny. She meets Asha and Cyrus at Utopia. Her company doesn’t have the same success that Asha’s company does. Destiny comes to work for Asha. They become really close friends. Destiny supports Asha through all of the problems. I imagine her as a RiotGrrrl, a punk rock feminist. I love her so much. Asha follows Cyrus’s dreams and leaves her plans behind. I think she learns that one person cannot be everything to another person. She learns about boundaries. She loves Cyrus but starts to question if he is the best person for her. If you are looking for a book about feminism and technology, then you might enjoy this book. If you think feminism is for suckers, then maybe you will learn something by reading this book. * I received this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own. Obviously. * Amazon affiliate link included in this post.
Loved this book. Told from the strong female point of view of the lead character it’s a full story. It takes you from the beginning all the way till tragedy and a fresh start. Wonderful story that you don’t want to put down.
I think I will even up this to 4.5 stars. SUCH a unique and well written novel. The story hinges on a tech incubator that specializes in upcoming technologies that will benefit the upcoming expected "end of the world as we know it." Asha, along with best friend and husband, develop her previous research into an idea for an app that generates personalized non-religious rituals based on likes/memories/wishes as well as connection to other users that have similar rituals. There was a "Black Mirror" flair, great character development especially among Asha and her husban'd's relationship and her family, and some very real life questions raised which made this a hard-to-put-down read. Will highly recommend!
A hilarious, timely, and insightful look into modern love, contemporary work culture, and human connection.
I can tell The Startup Wife is going to be all over bookstagram—it’s a fantastic premise from an award-winning author, the cover is great, there’s startup culture, sexism and feminism within in, cult-y vibes—it’s the kind of book that draws you in immediately because you really have no idea where it’s going to go. I really loved the commentary on startup and VC culture as well as misogyny both within them and more generally that the reader is able to see through the relationship between the two main characters. This book is smart and it’s entertaining. It doesn’t feel preachy or like satire, but there is definitely an underlying message. I loved it. My thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for an advance reader’s copy.
This book makes my tech-world loving heart melt. I love anything involving the world of tech, the lingo, and mix it into a book that brings a unicorn, humor, and well developed characters, perfection. I devoured this book in a weekend because I could not put it down. I appreciated that it wasn't stuffed with Facebook/Tik Tok buzz words trying to be cool, but something more somber and reflective of the start-up world. Bright, Funny, and enjoyable.
I actually read this one and came back to it to read it again. I also had my husband read it because he enjoys shows like Silicon Valley. I thought the book was super interesting and is something that felt very realistic as we are watching start ups become big money corporations within a matter of months or a few short years. I think the pressures we witness in this book are things that would plague any couple in a similar situation. It was just an awesome look at this facet of industry and love.
Thank you to NetGally and Scribner for this advance reader's copy of The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam. The Startup Wife is the story of a few friends that have a dream to create something world-changing together and what happens when they get their wish. Asha has been in love with Cyrus Jones for years before they re-connect during Asha's grad school career. As Asha and Cyrus fall in love, Asha also becomes friends with Jules, Cyrus's best friend. When Asha and Jules develop an app that they believe will be bigger than any other social media platform out there, they take their idea to the board at Utopia, an exclusive tech incubator. Asha and Jules have to convice the board at Utopia that they are worth the risk and then they also have to convince Cyrus to come with them on what the hope is a life-changing journey. What happens next is for you, the reader to discover when you read The Startup Wife. I found The Startup Wife to be a very enjoyable read. Getting to read along during the rise and fall of a tech startup was interesting and not a subject that I've read a lot of fictionalized accounts of so far. The characters were well-written and entertaining. I kept finding myself drawn to The Startup Wife any time I had a spare minute to read. My only real complaint is that I found the character's emotions to be not necessarily believable. It's a really good read otherwise. Highly recommend!
4 stars Rituals play an important role in our lives, helping us mark deaths, births, marriages, and other rites of passage, but Asha and Cyrus see an opportunity to more effectively personalize these rituals (A baptism for your cat? An Atwood themed bat mitzvah? The possibilities are endless!). These personalized rituals are exactly what their product - WAI (pronounced "why") - is based on, and when they get the chance to join Utopia, they can spend all of their time fine-tuning their ideas and output. As the title suggests, there are two central relationships here: work and marriage. Though Asha is the brain behind WAI, Cyrus gets involved because of his charisma but more so his proximity. The two know each other in high school but reconnect as romantic partners and later spouses. Their situation? It's complicated. This juxtaposition makes for a simultaneously intriguing and at times frustrating read because there is often ample focus on the product and the difficulties of working together (as well as Asha's particular struggles as a woman of color in tech); however, I often wanted to know more about these characters' personal lives. Their "intimacy" is typically limited to regular mentions of sex, but there is not enough development of their day-to-day interactions outside of work. While there is some thematic sense in this - i.e., the couple that works together is never not working together, even on nights, on weekends, and in their parents' basement - as partners, the characters feel a bit flat at times. My favorite part of the novel - and what kicked it from a 3 to 4-star read ultimately - is the treatment of ritual through technology and in modern culture. There are some legit early '80s DeLillo vibes happening in here (a la Toyota Celica) that put smiles on my face and chills in my soul, but these odes are updated to include modern tech and current happenings: pandemic references included. In a good way, this novel was not at all what I expected. If you love the postmodern novelists and want to peep an updated and less esoteric iteration, queue this one. I'm pleased I did.
I honestly haven't stopped thinking about this book since I finished reading it.⠀ ⠀ Questions like….. 'Is work/life balance a myth?' And 'are startups basically cults?' keep rattling around in my brain, and in the world of The Startup Wife, the answer is yeah……kinda.⠀ ⠀ The Startup Wife follows the meteoric rise of WAI, an app that provides meaning, ritual, and community in a society that is let down by religion. After falling madly in love, our protagonist, Asha Ray creates and codes an app that combines empathetic AI and her charismatic new husband. This book follows a marriage and business partnership through the millennial era of toxic tech culture tackling modern concerns about ethics, the role of social media, and a relationship without boundaries.⠀ ⠀ I was drawn to this book because of the tech. I, too, am a woman in tech. I often think about how to balance my own ambition and drive with impact. How to be palatable to others, but not sideline myself as the slow crawl of capitalism and the patriarchy eat away at even the best intentions. I saw that reflected here too with Asha Ray.⠀ ⠀ Asha Ray, as a character, is brilliant and sardonic. Her insights on her own life are smart, funny, observant, and often savage. She enters this marriage and business with rose-colored glasses, and in turn, misses all the red flags. A really solid character study.⠀ ⠀ This book might be for you if: you were intrigued by the fall of WeWork, would totally fall in love and marry someone in less than 3 months, wish an app that could give you personalized rituals existed, are obsessed with cults, or are curious about the dark side of tech.⠀
When is a parody not a parody? The real-world vibe, despite a wry, farcical tone, had me questioning whether this book is consciously making fun of folks (creators and consumers of tech) or simply depicting modern life. With tongue cheekily firm, this book has constructed a story that presents the 21st Century of software apps. It's a funny and smart story. But significantly, its so-called technology resonates with reality. These apps and how they are brought to market feel real and their absurdity toes solid ground. The techie characters (main and peripheral) are very earnest...to the extent that what is ridiculous or fictional becomes plausible or necessary. One example is a devout vegetarian who somehow engineers a tick whose bite will render its victim sick with the runs if meat is consumed. There's also a restaurant that only serves pickled food...(this may be real--what do I know?). And someone creates a device that gives women thorough pleasure when her partner fails or tires. I've read Anam's 3 other books and I would readily read her future titles. She is a warm, smart and engaging storyteller. This book would pair nicely with New Waves by Kevin Nguyen. Many thanks to Scribner for this ARC. Some favorite quotes: Jules was an excellent host, in that he treated the house as if he, too, were a temporary inhabitant. Li Ann is just here to make everyone else look unkempt. He is obsessively focused on both the present and on the esoteric distance. I hated him on sight, mostly because he started talking to me in elaborate sports metaphors and also because my parents have always have told me to be skeptical of brown people who change their names to sound like white people. Jules, Cyrus, and I are at restaurant where everything is pickled. It's called Pikld. The drinks are called vinegar and taste like soda. The vegetables are called kraut and taste like vinegar. "How evil are these people?" "Just your average evil funds." He gives off a kind of hummingbird vibe, flapping wildly while appearing to stand perfectly still. "Oh, honey," she soothes. "I see a bruise forming on the left side of your face. Did you get hit by a swinging dick?" And then he's gone into the snow and the night, a trail of unsaid words following silently behind him like a clutch of shadows.
This book is about newlyweds Asha and Cyrus, who get married within two months of dating. Asha is a brilliant coder, PHD student, and daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants. Cyrus is a high school drop out who loves rituals, philosophy and human connection. Asha is inspired by Cyrus’ thought process and his ability to design rituals and ceremonies that appeal to individual interests, values and traditions. Together, they create a new social media platform that designs personal rituals and communities with an in-depth survey. The platform, WAI, takes off instantly. Cyrus morphs into a modern day messiah and Asha tries her best to feel fulfilled woking behind the scenes. This book does an excellent job examining relationships, startup culture and mixing the two together. As the reader, I witnessed Asha and Cyrus’ idealistic plan for their new social media platform juxtaposed with their struggles as co-CEOS and husband and wife. The Startup Wife touches on interracial marriages, women of color in tech, and immigration. It encompassed a variety of topics and executed them well! I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this one although I was somewhat disappointed with the ending. Also, the ending coincides with the pandemic. So, if you’re not ready to read “pandemic” lit, maybe skip this one! That’s not what disappointed me per se, but I wanted to mention that aspect of the ending in this review! Overall, this was a super enjoyable, bingeable book! The Startup Wife’s pub date is Tuesday July 13th!!
What a complete joy to read, and what an intelligent and perceptive social satire of our time. I loved it, and I particularly liked the fact that the author didn’t take the easy, happy way out. It was so astute and so entertaining at the same time. A complete pleasure as a summer read.
The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam follows Asha as she moves from a quiet existence in her teens to becoming a tech giant alongside her husband Cyrus. Asha knows Cyrus from high school and when he serendipitously crosses back into her life during grad school, the pair are wrapped into a whirlwind romance. Quickly into their marriage Asha proposes an idea to create an app based on Cyrus's ability to make powerful rituals around events. However it isn't until their friend and roommate Jules suggests Asha builds it that the three find themselves quickly wrapped up in the tech startup world. However will the marriage and friendship among the three still work once money and egos get involved? As an academic, the premise of this book instantly drew me in when I saw that this was centered around a PhD student. This book touches on so many relevant topics including women in academia and tech, misogyny and racism in tech, pandemic, and tech's current and future role in our society. The writing used light satire that will make you smirk but yet is enough to make you reflect on the various themes. Asha was a character I found myself rooting for throughout the book, even if at times you wanted to shake her. it was interesting to see how love and working with your partner can influence how you bring yourself to your work, especially as a woman. Cyrus was an interesting character as he was compelling, yet somehow always distant. The way that the pressure of being a certain person and the ability to disengage from his values was a fascinating contrast to Asha. I also appreciated the role Jules played and added a layer to the dynamics of the three leaders of the start-up. This book read easily and I found myself breezing through this novel. I highly recommend this book for those looking for a light satire about tech and the personalities in big tech! Many thanks to the publisher Scribner and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.
Love this book so much. Full review is forthcoming! Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC and to Scribner for providing it in exchange for honest reviews.
Asha and Cyrus are a newlywed couple who, along with their best friend Jules, launch a new social networking app. The start-up is We Are Infinite (WAI) and it’s centered around faith and ritual. As WAI grows and becomes famous, Cyrus, with his good looks and charisma, becomes Messianic with his followers and Asha gets pushed aside. When the lawyer they’re consulting about the business says, “And you two,” he says, pointing to Cyrus and me, “go get yourselves a post-nup. Your odds aren’t good,” the writing was on the wall for this marriage. I thought this was a clever, satirical novel. It had a lot going on, but I really enjoyed Asha’s character. She was a brilliant, funny Bengali woman, and the contrast in how she was treated as a woman as opposed to a white man in her industry was irritating, but honest. I enjoyed this short novel and look forward to more from @tahmima. • • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Startup Wife the whip-smart, own-voices feminist tech literary fiction story we’ve all been waiting for and I absolutely adored it. If you loved Amanda Montell’s Cultish or Anna Wiener’s Uncanny Valley… or even Robin Sloan’s Sourdough, THIS is the book for you! The Startup Wife is the story of Asha Ray, a brilliant coder set to revolutionize the world of AI with her empathy algorithm. But after a whirlwind romance with Cyrus Jones, she finds herself married and the CTO of a new start up, WAI, that seeks to revolutionize spirituality and ritual across humanity. But as WAI grows in popularity and Cyrus gains a cult-like following as a messiah for the 21st century, Asha Ray begins to see professional power and personal agency erode. This is a story set in the limelight. Asha may be the protagonist of this book, but in many ways she finds herself on the margins of her own story… Often times, she feels pushed to the sidelines as the destiny of her code, her spouse, her company, herself are determined by everyone but her. It is in the moments when she commands her own agency and demands to be seen and heard that she truly makes her story her own. My favorite part about this book was the way that it explores the human need for ritual and deeper meaning… even in (or perhaps especially in) those who are not religious. WAI is a startup that creates customizable and completely individual rituals for people, regardless of religion or faith. I think that reading Cultish before this book really prepared me to think about Cyrus as a compelling (if reluctant) messiah-esque leader and how WAI itself speaks to the very core of the human desire to be seen, understood, and accepted by a community. If WAI existed in the real world, would I try it? Almost definitely. The Startup Wife’s audiobook included a wonderful bonus discussion between the author and narrator about the book. I always love hearing directly from authors about their insights and inspirations behind their work, but it was really cool to hear Tanha Dil discuss her thoughts as a narrator as well. In all, I really enjoyed The Startup Wife and I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoyed feminist literature or books about tech, start-ups, and cults in the digital age. . . . CW/TW - suicide, covid/pandemic
The Startup Wife is a great look into marriage dynamics in an ever-evolving technology-driven world, at the role of race and gender in the technology space, and how our constant use of social media might be both life-saving and life-ending. This was a fast-paced read that really kept me wanting to know more and see the characters grow. 4/5 Stars Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for providing me with an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐑𝐓𝐔𝐏 𝗪𝐈𝐅𝐄 by Tahmima Anam tells the story of a couple seemingly perfect for each other. They first meet in high school, and when they reconnect 10 years later, they suddenly seem perfect together, and quickly marry. Cyrus is an idea man, already creating personalized, meaningful weddings, funerals and other ceremonies for people he knows and those who’ve heard about his special talent. Asha, is the tech wiz who can write code for anything. She and their best friend, Jules, convince Cyrus to let them create an app to replace traditional religious rituals with things more special and significant for individuals, also creating new communities along the way. Cyrus is reluctant to have his ideas used in such a way, that is, until their app takes off, becoming a worldwide social media sensation. I think 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘶𝘱 𝘞𝘪𝘧𝘦 was a great little story, especially for people interested in or familiar with the tech and startup worlds. I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself one of those people, so those aspects of the story I didn’t enjoy as much as others might. What I did enjoy was the relationships between the three main characters and how those evolved and changed over their time struggling to create something brand new and then even more so when they stumbled into success. The most fully developed character was Asha, who I both loved and was frustrated by. I also appreciated that Anam touched on so many hot-button topics: race, the tech industry and its treatment of women, venture capitalism, artificial intelligence, ego, and even the global pandemic. I’d love to hear what those working in the tech industry think of 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘶𝘱 𝘞𝘪𝘧𝘦. For me it was a well-written, entertaining book, but probably won’t be one that stays with me for long. Thanks to @scribnerbooks for the ARC of #TheStartupWife.