The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam | Book Review

“I’m going to write a marriage guide, I think. I’ll call it The Startup Wife: How to Succeed in Business and Marriage at the Same Time. I’ll tell everyone how great it is to mix everything together— work, love, ambition, sex. Anyone who says business and pleasure doesn’t mix is an idiot. I can see it in Barnes & Noble, propped up on a table between How to Stay Married and Startups for Dummies.
 
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’s 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?

31. The Startup Wife

I find there are plenty of books categorised under women’s fiction but nowhere near enough under women in STEM and an even smaller percentage around women in tech.

Tahmima Anam’s gripping novel is a step in the right direction with a female protagonist traversing the roads of startups and partnerships, navigating patriarchy, while keeping to her feminist ideals.

Asha is confident she can transform Cyrus’s idea of reinventing faith and spirituality into an app that connects people. Using a vague seed of thought, she creates a social networking platform that rises above religion and offers people rituals derived from experiences they enjoy.

Though Cyrus isn’t convinced, Asha and Jules begin development and eventually manage to rope him in, making him the face of their product.

Where Anam catches your attention is in portraying the balance of Asha’s professional and personal life. Asha finds no challenges as she believes she and Cyrus are in a mutually beneficial partnership at both home and work. And yet, the reader begins to notice how Asha has convinced herself of a false truth.

It wasn’t your fault, Cyrus, it was mine. I bigged you up and smalled me down. I shone the light on you. I carried the water and let you drink.

From being a disbeliever, the app’s success shifts the base of power to Cyrus and he soon starts making isolated decisions. Asha now finds herself caught between love and career and is forced to re-evaluate their purpose in light of their responsibility to the community and to humanity.

Through Asha, Anam explores women’s ambition in the face of love, marriage, gender, race, colour, power, faith and religion. The question remains, when you’ve already given up your rights voluntarily, is it at all possible to fight to win them back?

A thoughtful insight into the eternal dilemma of whether women can have it all, you will find yourself wholly engaged with this geeky narrative bursting with feminism.

The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam. Published in June 2021 by Canongate. This ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Canongate.

Book 31 of 2021.

Aquamarine Flavours Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟.

Available on Amazon*.

About Photo: Even though Asha described her ability to keep plants alive as poor, she nurtured a unique idea and built it into a successful startup, much like caring for a plant where you sow a seed, water it, provide sunlight and watch it grow.
This pot plant is made with origami using 80gsm paper.
31. The Startup Wifeb
 
About the Author: Tahmima Anam is an anthropologist and a novelist. Her debut novel, A Golden Age, won the 2008 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book and went on to be translated into 27 languages. It was followed by The Good Muslim and The Bones of Grace. She is the recipient of an O. Henry Award and in 2013 was named one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists. She was a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and was a judge for the 2016 International Man Booker Prize. She was recently elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, she was educated at Mount Holyoke College and Harvard University, and now lives in Hackney, East London, where she is on the board of ROLI, a music tech company founded by her husband.
Find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
 
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