The novel “The Start Up Wife“ by Tahmima Anam tells the story of Asha, daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants, who is doing research in computer science at MIT. When she meets her high school crush Cyrus again and marries him only two months later, she has the idea for a new social media app that could revolutionize how we interact with spirituality.
Together with Cyrus and their common friend Jules Asha develops an app that suggests personalized rituals for weddings, funerals and other important life events based on its user’s individual likes and defining memories. When the three of them are invited to work on their project at the fancy business incubator in New York, Asha’s plans and marriage take an unexpected turn.
Through the story of Asha and her app WAI “The Start Up Wife” provides a humorous yet critical perspective on the world of highly polished tech start ups that dream and design the world of the future. Anam shows how idealistic ideas of a better world and the reality of capitalist economy and profit generation collide. While doing that the novel offers both a satirical insight into the start up scene as well as an exploration of the dynamics of community and relationships in between social media, entrepreneurship, and marriage.
I especially liked the tension that slowly builds up throughout the course of the novel for the grand finale. I found it hard to put the book down because I constantly wanted to know what happens next.
The dynamics and development of the relationship between Asha, the talented computer scientist, and Cyrus, the idealistic dreamer, was very interesting to read. While Asha was the driving force by the initial start of their business, Cyrus soon becomes its poster boy after its success. With the portrayal of their relationship the novel is not only posing questions about gender roles and inequalities but also about what it does with a relationship when work is the common baby of both partners.
„The Start Up Wife“ has an occasionally satirical, occasionally socially critical, occasionally comedic tone and reflects the developments and issues of the past few years very well. Even if the book makes its readers think about the topics it addresses it does not have much depth. But whether the novel even needs that is up to the reader to decide. Those who decide to read “The Start Up Wife” will still get suspenseful, light and humorous entertainment – I for one didn’t need more than that. The novel was exactly the right company for hot summer days.
Thank you Hoffmann & Campe for the review copy! If you want to know more about the book, I can highly recommend this review as well.
Have you read “The Start Up Wife” yet? If yes, did you enjoy it?