“A whip-smart, funny, and searing look at the wild world of startups.” —Good Morning America Book Club Buzz Pick
“Tahmima Anam deftly uses humor to explore both start-up culture and the institution of marriage in an utterly charming and genuinely thoughtful way.” —Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind
Newlyweds Asha and Cyrus build an app that replaces religious rituals and soon find themselves running one of the most popular social media platforms in the world.
Meet Asha Ray.
Brilliant coder and possessor of a Pi tattoo, Asha is poised to revolutionize artificial intelligence when she is reunited with her high school crush, Cyrus Jones.
Cyrus inspires Asha to write a new algorithm. Before she knows it, she’s abandoned her PhD program, they’ve exchanged vows, and gone to work at an exclusive tech incubator called Utopia.
The platform creates a sensation, with millions of users seeking personalized rituals every day. Will Cyrus and Asha’s marriage survive the pressures of sudden fame, or will she become overshadowed by the man everyone is calling the new messiah?
In this gripping, blistering novel, award-winning author Tahmima Anam takes on faith and the future with a gimlet eye and a deft touch. Come for the radical vision of human connection, stay for the wickedly funny feminist look at startup culture and modern partnership. Can technology—with all its limits and possibilities—disrupt love?
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.