Title: The Startup Wife
Author: Tahmima Anam
Publication Date: 3rd June 2021
Halfway through her PhD and already dreaming of running her own lab, computer scientist Asha has her future all mapped out. Then a chance meeting and whirlwind romance with her old high-school crush, Cyrus, changes everything.
Dreaming big, together with their friend Jules they come up with a revolutionary idea: to build a social networking app that could bring meaning to millions of lives. While Asha creates an ingenious algorithm, Cyrus’ charismatic appeal throws him into the spotlight.
When the app explodes into the next big thing, Asha should be happy, shouldn’t she? But why does she feel invisible in the boardroom of her own company? Why are decisions being made without her? Gripping, witty and razor-sharp, The Startup Wife is a blistering novel about big ambitions, speaking out and standing up for what you believe in.
I’d heard some fantastic things about The Startup Wife so I was really excited to read it and I’m pleased to say it totally delivered! The story follows Asha, an extremely intelligent PhD student who by chance runs into her old high-school crush, Cyrus. They get married almost immediately, totally caught up in one another and then, together with their friend Jules cook up an idea for a social media platform which they hope will revolutionise faith and the way people connect. The platform puts Cyrus, a charismatic almost ‘cult leader’ like personality at its centre and once it blows up into a huge success Asha starts to feel sidelined and overlooked, despite it being her original concept and her brain that built the algorithm on which it runs.
I have to say, first off, that The Startup Wife really is like nothing else I’ve read. I found the whole concept so fascinating despite not being someone who finds tech particularly interesting. The idea these three characters develop is so intriguing – a sort of replacement for religion which connects likeminded people. It’s provocative and challenging in a way that will make the reader consider some very complex themes present in society. At the same time, the writing is so sharp, snappy and on point that the book never feels bogged down by its looming philosophical and moral questions. The Startup Wife is also eerily prescient in many respects and feels so relevant it’s almost frightening.
I loved Asha as a character. Her perspective on the sometimes subtle and sometimes not ways that women are treated differently in the tech startup world and in the world in general is cuttingly accurate and resonant. Tahmima Anam skilfully depicts the micro aggressions and shades of sexism present in the workplace in a way that feels devastatingly real. This book really is just so intelligently written – Asha’s slow realisation of what is wrong with the situation she is in is beautifully handled and the way Cyrus becomes an all-consuming centre of her world is subtle and stark at the same time. I really can’t recommend The Startup Wife highly enough. It’s one of those books that is truly pitch perfect – satirical, thought provoking, sharp, timely and deftly witty. Incredible.
I very kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.