28 Jun / The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam [in Booklist]
Dhaka-born, Harvard PhD-ed, London-domiciled Tahmima Anam has won prestigious accolades for her Bengal trilogy into which she’s lyrically woven Bangladeshi history with personal inspiration. She turns utterly contemporary in her newest novel, which reads rather like an elevated, fictional version of Anna Weiner’s Uncanny Valley (2020).
Asha has loved Cyrus since ninth grade; he disappeared without graduating. Four years into her MIT PhD, Asha reunites with Cyrus at their high-school English teacher’s memorial service and they marry two months later. Together with Cyrus’ best friend, Jules, the trio found WAI (pronounced “why”), as in We Are Infinite, a social-media platform that connects strangers “on the basis of what gives their life meaning.” Asha is the engineering genius, Jules the cheerleading big thinker. Cyrus, initially reluctant, disdainful of capitalism, calling technology grotesque, will – surprise! – become the public essence of WAI. Amalgamating love, work, and identities without boundaries will not end well.
Infused with winks to Han Kang’s The Vegetarian (2016) and the Ōtsuchi wind phone, Anam’s not-quite-love-story shrewdly exposes gender inequity, racism, homophobia, and male white privilege, achieving sharply exposing, skillfully engaging results.