The author of a trilogy of celebrated novels exploring the Bangladesh war of independence returns with a contemporary look at tech culture. Asha is poised to revolutionize artificial intelligence when she marries and begins working at a tech startup with her high school crush, Cyrus Jones. But when Asha's work on an app called Utopia creates a sensation, and Cyrus gets all the credit, Asha wonders if her marriage can survive.
... a satirical and insightful sendup of startup culture ... The real story unfolding here is that of Asha's feminist awakening. Her evolving epiphanies are served up in an engagingly sarcastic and ironic voice with sharply observed details ... As empowering and welcome as this non-victimhood narrative sounds, there are some off-key notes. While the supporting characters, from Asha's Bangladeshi American family members to her Utopian family members, are effective foils during each milestone of Asha's journey, the latter sometimes succumb to well worn stereotypes. Thankfully, with the former, Anam doesn't dwell on tired South Asian family tropes other than to skillfully poke fun at them ... within the still-evolving South Asian diasporic literary traditions, this novel is a much-needed addition because it gives us the experiences of our cultures and communities here and now in ways that don't erase or exoticize but celebrate them.
... funny and sharp ... brilliantly incisive ... is framed as a satirical novel about startup culture, but because Americans revere that culture, its foibles and failings are our failures, too ... While The Startup Wife is full of beautifully messy and enviable characters, Asha’s fierce feminism and candor stand out. Of course, she’s far from innocent. She’s a creative genius who wants her due, just as any man would. But it’s a delight to experience Asha’s first-person perspective of the world and her metamorphosis into a powerful, flawed woman ... Because The Startup Wife is sexy and funny and puts relationships at the forefront, it might be easy to overlook its depth and sophistication. But its priorities are right where they should be. When people create a community with their friends and lovers, it is inevitable that boundaries will dissolve and that friendship, love, ego and identity will become intertwined. The Startup Wife’s insights about modern relationships, gender politics, race, technology and culture are as excellent and vital as its storytelling.
Tahmima Anam creates a fun parody of today’s tech startup culture ... How lovely then would it have been if the book had also made any kind of meaningful contribution to the conversation on consent, feminism, women in male-dominated professions and any of the other broad spectrum of complex issues it tries to cover. Unfortunately, it does little else apart from reaffirming what the reader likely already knows—that technology cannot save the world and that men will sometimes let you down ... Worse still, Anam applies the same broad strokes to her characters, who seem like cardboard cut-outs standing in for genuinely interesting and complex people. We never get to know Asha, this cool-headed nerdy programmer better, nor do we get to understand how the artistic, sensitive and utterly obnoxious Cyrus became who he is. Likewise, the extended cast of young founders ... What irks most of all is that Anam seems to present no clear point of view on any of the issues she tackles. Yes, women play as much of a role in diminishing themselves as men do; yes, all the organic superfoods in the world can’t protect against climate change; yes, men have fragile egos; and, yes, the startup world is starting to seem very much like a cartoon of itself. These seem to be the only messages, scrawled in crayon with no shadow or depth. Opinion can come guised as parody and humour can make you think and feel; sadly, The Startup Wife does not even try to be more.