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.)
PRAISE FOR STARTUP:
"[A] smart, breezy novel... a beach read for Silicon Valley fans."
"Shafrir has a deft, easy touch, but her take on gender politics in the workplace is razor-sharp. This ruthlessly clever look behind the scenes at a New York start-up demands a sequel."
Kim Hubbard, People
"Startup is a dramedy-of-errors, a Shakespearean yarn of secrets, sex, miscommunication, misogyny, and money...Crack this one open on the beach and you just might find yourself a little more enlightened when you return to the workplace."
Lexi Pandell, Wired.com, 9 Essential Summer Reads
"Though often wickedly witty, Startup is so much more than mere satire; it's a smart, deeply empathetic novel genuinely interested in exploring the way we live now."
Rumaan Alam, author of Rich and Pretty
"This funny, empowering debut is chock-full of strong women transcending the workplace drama, sexual politics, and all-around dumb stuff the men in their life are doing. It's a novel that just might spark the official feministing of startup culture. If I were a tech bro, I'd be shaking in my hoodie."Camille Perri, author of The Assistants
"Don't buy this book. Don't open. Don't start reading it. Because if you do, I can assure you, you won't be able to put it down. I was hooked from the first page and found myself lost in a beautifully-written fiction that so succinctly echoes today's bizarre reality."
Nick Bilton, Special Correspondent, Vanity Fair and author of Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal
"Is there a satirist alive more brilliantand more insightfulthan Doree Shafrir? That I tore through Startup in a single dayignoring the cries of my children and the dinging of my phone, laughing with recognition at her characters' foibles-is perhaps not nearly as significant as the fact that this ridiculously compelling novel has haunted me, every minute, in the weeks that followed. If you have ever lived in New York or worked in an office, you will love this novel. If you love the novels of Tom Perrotta, you will love this novel. But also: If you are a sentient human, you will love this novel."Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year and A Fortunate Age
"Doree Shafrir's Startup is like a thrilling combination of Po Bronson's Bombardiers and Jessica Knoll's Luckiest Girl Alive. Shafrir has set heartbreak and romance in the ticking clock environment of startups and the result is a topical, funny and perfectly observed document of our insane times."Karl Taro Greenfeld, author of Triburbia and The Subprimes
"Doree Shafrir is so spot-on in her observations about the tech world that it's hard not to think this novel must be telling the juicy truth-and in a way it is. Sharp, compelling, and expertly written."
Jade Chang, author of The Wangs vs. The World
"A funny, delicious and charming novel about the alternate reality of startups #divine."Delia Ephron, author of Siracusa
"What a tremendous book. Fun, breezy and charming. I think I finally understand the Internet and I'm both gladdened and depressed."
Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
"Exacting, though not without empathyShafrir renders even the most infuriating of her characters with unexpected humanity-the novel is a page-turning pleasure that packs a punch. To call it expertly observed is an understatement."Kirkus (Starred Review)
"Funny and unflinching, Shafrir's cast is chock full of strong women taking charge of a world the boys still think is their own... [a] sharp debut novel".Girlboss
A "deliciously detailed satire."
Jenny Comita, W Magazine
"I tore through Startup in two days. It could've been one, but I had to eat, sleep, and feed my cats-all normal activities that became frustrating distractions while reading this book. Well-observed and told with a crackling wit, this debut is one of the best I've read so far this year."Amy Brady, Lit Hub
"Shafrir's compulsively readable debut novel is hilarious, smart, and timely; it feels like a necessary read right now, so perfectly does it deal with issues like the insatiable media, the weird place where wellness and technology meet, and why white men suck so badly-especially when they have just a little bit of power."Kristin Iversen, Nylon
"[A] timely page-turner."
"A pitch-perfect depiction of the industry's culture and sexual politics."Elle
"[A] very contemporary screwball comedy, this is a cheerful satire... good, dizzy fun, if you can put your iPad down long enough to read it."
Moira Macdonald, The Seattle Times
"Move over, Silicon Valley. Shafrir's satirical novel is set in the New York tech scene, where a cast of characters are swept into the rise (and viral fall) of a mindfulness app called TakeOff. A tech writer herself, Shafrir makes incisive, astute, and all too real observations on the idiosyncrasies of the industry. This a fun, breezy, utterly millennial read."Elena Nicolaou, Refinery29, Best Beach Reads 2017
"While everyone's obsessing over followers, likes, retweets, and comments, Shafrir smartly dissects age, gender, and workplace politics."Booklist
"Some people are calling Startup a satire, but you get the feeling that there's very little air between Doree Shafrir's alternately hilarious and unsettling novel and reality."
Adam Rathe, Town & Country
"In her debut, BuzzFeed culture writer Shafrir skewers a world she knows wellstartup culture and the outlets assigned to cover it."Publishers Weekly
"Buzzfeed writer Shafrir's debut is full of humor and layered in truth as she exposes the underbelly of start-up culture."Library Journal
"Part of the joy of reading Startup is deciphering which parts are based in fact and which are fiction, but even if you don't care about guessing who's who you'll find the read a charming one."Maris Kreizman, New York Magazine's Vulture Blog
"It explores modern workplace culture while highlighting the strengths of women who workthis is a must-read that you won't be able to put down."Alexandra Wilson, Stylefox
"Funny, hip and clever, Shafrir's Startup slices through the world of tech startups and the kids running them."
Veteran journalist Shafrir, currently of BuzzFeed News, sharply skewers tech culture in a feminist satire that's as addictive as it is biting.At 28, Mack McAllister, golden boy of Silicon Alley, is the founder of TakeOff, a workplace-wellness app (tell it how you're feeling and it makes you feel better!) valued at $600 million (a billion, hopefully, not this funding round, maybe, but next). Katya Pasternack is an ambitious young reporter at TechScene ("Tech news straight, no chaser") who knows that while she's a master of raking in the traffic—her posts top the charts—she needs a game-changing scoop to prove her chops and, more urgently, keep her job amid an ominous companywide "audit." Meanwhile, Katya's boss, Dan Blum, downright wizened at 39, is unhappily married to Sabrina Choe Blum, a failed novelist and exhausted mother of two in serious credit-card debt. And as it happens, Sabrina has recently (and somewhat desperately) taken an ill-fitting social media job at—where else?—TakeOff. Then one fateful night, Mack, who has been getting rather friendly with Sabrina's young, pretty boss, fires off a series of unfortunate texts—texts that, by virtue of the incestuous New York tech scene, aren't so private after all. And so the game is in play: Mack's in trouble; Katya's hungry for a story; and Sabrina, involuntarily entangled on both sides, ends up in the eye of the brewing storm. Increasingly fed up with the near-endless entitlement of the men in their lives, Katya and Sabrina—unlikely allies—find themselves working toward a shared goal: to expose the tech-bro patriarchy for what it is. Exacting, though not without empathy—Shafrir renders even the most infuriating of her characters with unexpected humanity—the novel is a page-turning pleasure that packs a punch. To call it expertly observed is an understatement.