Selected as a Best Book of 2021 by the Observer, Stylist, Cosmopolitan, Red and the Daily Mail
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
The Startup Wife feels like a book from the future, except that the future is very much here already. Asha Ray and Cyrus Jones are a married couple who launch a tech startup based on an algorithm built by PhD student Asha. Asha does the legwork while the charismatic Cyrus becomes the face of the company. As business booms, everything else begins to unravel, trainwreck-like, for the couple as Asha finds herself increasingly sidelined. You need not be a tech expert to appreciate Anam’s clever, humorous look at the world it has created, and she tackles feminism, race, and the structures of marriage itself thoughtfully and skilfully. A fast read you’ll find yourself dwelling on long after the final page.
Heavy lies the high-tech crown in Anam's spectacular fourth novel (after her Bengal trilogy). Asha Ray, 30, a brilliant computer coder whose PhD project at Harvard involves the "reverse engineering of the brain," reconnects with Cyrus Jones, a high school crush she hasn't seen in 13 years who has become an itinerant "humanist spirit guide," officiating weddings and baptisms for nonreligious people. She abandons her research and the two marry in an impulsive city hall wedding, then move into her parents' house on Long Island. Asha and Cyrus find work at Utopia, a tech company whose mission is to "save humanity from the apocalypse." There, Asha throws herself into creating an "Empathy Module" algorithm for a social networking app inspired by Cyrus's spiritual work. The app, a "virtual parish" called WAI (We Are Infinite) becomes a global sensation, and, after Cyrus gets the credit for it, his charismatic personality turns him into a "new messiah" and threatens their marriage. A startling ending framed by a deadly, Covid-like pandemic drives the plot close to a disastrous abyss as a trend of "death ritual groups" sparked by the app causes moral and ethical dilemmas. Anam provides a piercing perspective on marital and business institutions and gender bias and cultural clashes, and weaves in rich local color as Asha grows reacquainted with her childhood home and her parents' Muslim community. This is a powerful statement on the consequences of public achievement on private happiness.