Startup

Doree Shafrir. Little Brown, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-36038-8
In her debut, BuzzFeed culture writer Shafrir skewers a world she knows well—startup culture and the outlets assigned to cover it. The story, told from three alternating perspectives, focuses on two companies renting space in a Manhattan office building. TakeOff, a mindfulness app, is on the verge of revolutionizing the world—or of failing miserably, depending on whether founder Mack McAllister can secure the next round of funding. Elsewhere in the building, ambitious millennial journalist Katya Pasternack has been given a mandate by her employer, the blog TechScene, to report real tech news, not just regurgitate influencers’ tweets. Caught in the middle is Katya’s boss’s wife Sabrina, a newly hired (and, at 36, downright old) social media “ninja” at TakeOff. When a potential sexual harassment scandal threatens to make Katya’s career and break Mack’s chances at a billion-dollar valuation, the ensuing commotion reveals not only personal conflicts but also the not-so-hidden hypocrisies at the heart of the tech boom. Shafrir’s satirical observations, about such topics as the nonstop snacking in startup offices, are often astute; unfortunately, they’re also often made multiple times. Also, in a novel that seems in part intended to highlight sexism in the tech industry, the object of the sexual harassment incident remains largely voiceless. Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable send-up that, unlike so many of the characters it portrays, doesn’t take itself too seriously. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/20/2017
Release date: 04/25/2017
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