The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam review – a deft take on tech times | Fiction

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From John Carreyrou’s award-winning Unhealthy Blood: Secrets and techniques and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup to Reeves Wiedeman’s WeWork shakedown Billion Greenback Loser, the real-life tales popping out of startup land are so far-fetched that you possibly can be forgiven for considering there’s no floor left for invention.

So what position can fiction play on this world with no boundaries – between residence and work, love and enterprise, goal and revenue? Tahmima Anam’s fourth novel makes an attempt to reply this by taking inspiration from her expertise as government director of ROLI, a music know-how startup based by her husband.

Asha Ray is a “brightest of her generation” pc scientist midway by her PhD when she bumps into her former highschool crush, the charismatic Cyrus. Falling head over heels in love, they provide you with the concept for a social networking app to offer which means to our on a regular basis lives. Asha is the brains, Cyrus the frontman, and his buddy Julian the enterprise handler. Collectively they kind the type of triumvirate startup that desires are manufactured from: equal elements in a larger complete. However as WAI (We Are Infinite) takes off in methods Asha by no means imagined, it turns into apparent that considered one of them is extra equal than the others.

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Whereas the startup journey could seem a well-trodden path, Anam is not any novice in relation to elevating the emotional stakes. Her debut, A Golden Age, was shortlisted for the Costa and the Guardian first ebook awards, and three novels later, her expertise exhibits on this deftly crafted story. This can be a novel of triangles: Asha, Cyrus and Julian; Asha, WAI and her profession as a analysis scientist; Asha, Cyrus and WAI … It quickly turns into obvious that in every of these triangles, it’s Asha who’s diminished – by the bro tradition that dominates the startup world, by being a brown girl in a white man’s playground, by her personal inherited assumptions about herself.

“Are you Stevie Wonder or are you the person who gave him all the time in the world to become a legend?” one other character asks Asha. Whereas on the floor this enterprise, this relationship, this ebook, is all about Cyrus, Asha is its brains, its soul and its coronary heart.

Anam is aware of of what she writes and is unafraid to name out the misogyny that dominates our so-called courageous new world, usually deploying biting wit to devastating impact. “You want to give this man his own religion?” Julian says of Cyrus close to the beginning of ebook. In artwork, as in life, no one listens.

Like all good startup propositions, The Startup Spouse is shiny and readable and appears extra apparent than it’s, however not like most of them it’s not depending on smoke and mirrors to maintain you invested.

The Startup Spouse is printed by Canongate (£14.99). To help the Guardian and Observer order a replica at guardianbookshop.com. Supply expenses might apply.