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The Subtweet: A Novel

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2021 Dublin Literary Award Finalist
2021 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist for Transgender Fiction
2020 Toronto Book Awards Finalist “ The Subtweet  is affecting, unnerving, empowering, and often truly LOL.” ―  Foreword Reviews , starred review “A beautifully crafted novel about race, music, and social media.” ―  Booklist Includes an exclusive free soundtrack Celebrated multidisciplinary artist Vivek Shraya’s second novel is a no-holds-barred examination of the music industry, social media, and making art in the modern era, shining a light on the promise and peril of being seen. Indie musician Neela Devaki has built a career writing the songs she wants to hear but nobody else is singing. When one of Neela’s songs is covered by internet artist RUK-MINI and becomes a viral sensation, the two musicians meet and a transformative friendship begins. But before long, the systemic pressures that pit women against one another begin to bear down on Neela and RUK-MINI, stirring up self-doubt and jealousy. With a single tweet, their friendship implodes, a career is destroyed, and the two women find themselves at the centre of an internet firestorm.

248 pages, Hardcover

First published April 7, 2020

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About the author

Vivek Shraya

12 books980 followers
Vivek Shraya is an artist whose body of work crosses the boundaries of music, literature, visual art, theatre, and film. She is the author of The Subtweet, Death Threat, even this page is white, The Boy & The Bindi, She of the Mountains, and God Loves Hair; and her best-selling I’m Afraid of Men was her­ald­ed by Vanity Fair as “cultural rocket fuel”. She is one half of the music duo Too Attached, founder of the publishing imprint VS. Books, and an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Calgary.

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5 stars
782 (21%)
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1,459 (40%)
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983 (27%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 674 reviews
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews116k followers
June 13, 2022
The characters are just like people on Twitter who constantly subtweet or insert themselves into discourse or make “hot take” threads, so the title is aptly named and the characters are meant to be unlikable, insecure, and flawed. Narratively though, I wish the story wasn't so on-the-nose with its political and racial discourse by using these characters as soapboxes. Maybe I’m biased though bc I loathe catty online people and the characters’ passive-aggressiveness and miscommunication was tooooo close to home without adding enough depth, groundbreaking revelations, or different perspectives to make me appreciate it enough.
Profile Image for CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian.
1,154 reviews1,465 followers
June 19, 2020
I've been putting off reviewing this book because I feel like my words are inadequate in face of what an incredible piece of art it is and how thought-provoking and readable it was. Neela and Rukmini are two South Asian Canadian women musicians (one trans, one cis *edit--one is confirmed trans, the other not specified, so I shouldn't assume!) who form a friendship when Rukmini an emerging artist, covers one of the more established artist Neela's songs.

The story investigates brown female friendship, professional jealousy, the pleasures and price of making art, social media and call-out culture, white people performing anti-racism for their own benefit, the way systemic racism and sexism pits women of colour against each other, and more. It's also very much a love letter to so many women (mostly of colour) artists and theorists of all stripes, like Shani Mootoo, Lykke Li, June Jordan, Gayatri Spivak, Bjork, Meera Sethi, and so many more. (I found myself googling and enjoying learning about the people I wasn't already familiar with).

This book was so good and so smart! The characterization of Neela and Rukmini was incredible. The concepts were so thoughtfully explored. Once while I was in the middle of this book I was 20 minutes into doing the dishes when I realized I had been washing the pots and pans in silence, just thinking about Neela and Rukmini. This is very unusual for me. I am a stalwart audiobook listener and never normally do chores without one playing, or at least music. But these characters had captured my imagination.

I love how Shraya refused to make Neela and Rukmini likable. When I say Neela and Rukmini aren't nice and likeable, I don't mean that they aren't kind to each other (and others) and that I didn't like and sympathize with them. I absolutely did. But they aren't "nice" and "likeable" in a way that flattens and uncomplicates them. Rukmini and Neela are not made easily digestible and palatable, which is how a sexist white supremacist society wants them. Neither is the villain or the victim.

Guess what this is only the tip of the iceberg of my thoughts: full review on my blog here.

Read this book!!
Profile Image for emma.
1,866 reviews54.4k followers
July 7, 2021
Honestly, I didn't expect to like this.

People are always like, "don't judge a book by its cover" this, "outside appearances don't matter" that. And their propaganda almost worked on me.

Because yes, I picked up this book exclusively for its cover.

But guess what.


This is an excellent commentary on digital life and modern friendship and fame and making art. It rules.

And the cover is even better, so there.

Bottom line: You'd think I'd get tired of winning!!! (Just kidding. It'd be weird if I got tired of a rarity.)

currently-reading updates

i would hang this cover on my wall. that's the main reason i'm reading this.


reading all books with LGBTQ+ rep for pride this month!

book 1: the gravity of us
book 2: the great american whatever
book 3: wild beauty
book 4: the affair of the mysterious letter
book 5: how we fight for our lives
book 6: blue lily, lily blue
book 7: the times i knew i was gay
book 8: conventionally yours
book 9: the hollow inside
book 10: nimona
book 11: dark and deepest red
book 12: the house in the cerulean sea
book 13: the raven king
book 14: violet ghosts
book 15: as far as you'll take me
book 16: bad feminist
book 17: a song for a new day
book 18: one last stop
book 19: to break a covenant
book 20: honey girl
book 21: check, please!
book 22: the subtweet
Profile Image for Michael.
655 reviews964 followers
June 8, 2020
A fast-paced satirical novel charting the rise and fall of a friendship between two South Asian singers, whose careers become inextricably linked through social media. The surreal plot takes several sudden turns and swiftly takes on so many topics, from white liberals’ performative allyship to the music industry’s abuse of artists of color, but at its core the story’s a sharp exploration of what it means to create art as a brown person working within a white supremacist society.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,519 reviews8,984 followers
February 20, 2021
A fast-paced novel filled with complexity about friendship, race, and art. The Subtweet follows Neela Devaki and Rukmini, two South Asian musicians who are brought together when Rukmini’s cover of Neela’s song “Every Song” goes viral. The two differ in personality yet form a close friendship despite Neela’s more reclusive tendencies and Rukmini’s extroversion. However, when Rukmini starts to accumulate more success as an artist, Neela posts a subtweet that catapults the direction of their friendship into difficult and public terrain.

I loved how Vivek Shraya dissects popular notions of social justice and racial progress in The Subtweet. Without taking us out of the story itself, she examines nuanced questions like: is it possible for an artist of color to make it “big” in the industry without pandering or selling out to white people? Can an artist of color achieve success without performative allyship from white people, and is popularity within a white-dominant society even worth it? How can artists of color support one another in a system designated to pit them against each other? Watching Neela and Rukmini live these questions in The Subtweet feels like opening one’s eyes to the racism and white supremacy of the music industry, an industry that often promotes an image of progressivism and liberalism despite its problems related to inequity and injustice.

I also liked the novel’s focus on friendship and the power of friendship between brown women. There is pretty much no romance in this book and almost no men, which feels refreshing in an amatonormative and heteronormative society. If anything, I wanted even more depth in Neela and Rukmini’s friendship prior to the subtweet. While I believed in their bond, I feel like fleshing it out more would have enhanced the emotional resonance of the story in the wake of the events following Neela’s subtweet. Still, I would recommend this novel to those interested in the music industry, performative allyship and questions related to race in the creative arts, and friendship between women of color.
Profile Image for Jesse On Youtube .
69 reviews4,600 followers
January 14, 2020
Subtweet is an energetic novel surrounding two brown musicians (Neela and Rukmini), illustrating how they come together, their eventual close friendship, and ultimate falling out over a twitter feud. 
The strength of this novel lies in its connectedness. Shraya expertly builds up "the music scene", the culture and lifestyle of struggling musicians, and brings every piece of music to life in her pages. In fact, you can listen to music from The Subtweet once the book releases! A merciless examination of friendship, call out culture, and how "validation culture" (needing affirmation from strangers online to feel good about oneself) impacts women of color; I was very much looking forward to the exploration of each of these topics. Unfortunately, the Subtweet was not for me. 

The dialogue-centric storytelling felt immoderate; there simply wasn't enough descriptions of setting and little to no transition between scenes. The time jumps were jarring and excessive. However, there were occasional lines of comedic or emotional gold such as "there was nothing more intimidating than watching a grown man throw a temper tantrum as an intimidation tactic" - relatable. Subtweet seeks to address a myriad of society's issues without successfully (in my opinion) digging into and truly interrogating most of its topics, but it does show how easily miscommunications happen online and how seeking "likes and RTs" to validate yourself and your artistry is a 1 way ticket to disappointment. Most glaringly, I felt the characters had little to no backstory.

They lacked the characterization I needed in a story so centered on the relationship between two people; also the miscommunication trope was RAMPANT in this book. Since the story was so fast paced and overly focused on plot, the codependent relationship Neela and Rukmini had with one another felt rushed, unrealistic, and surface level. As a result, I was not interested in what happened between them.

Two things I found problematic: I did not enjoy how this book handled gender nonconformity. There were 2 remarks in particular that I did not appreciate. EX:
1. One of the main characters is surveying a crowd, notices a "white androgynous" person, and immediately begins using they pronouns for this person. At no point does she use they pronouns for any of the brown people she encounters in the book. It reinforces the idea that nonbinary people are white and "gender ambiguous" looking. as a nonbinary afromexican individual, this irritated me. The same character also makes fun of people who overly uses the word "folks" instead of addressing the group with gendered terms. Again, folks is used to be inclusive of gender non conforming people so seeing this made fun of really irritated me. Also one of the MC's casually mentions that she is trans but the book never mentions it again so I wouldn't exactly applaud it for trans rep.

2. Neela narrates, "the word 'jazz' should come with a trigger warning" as a way of venting her frustration that jazz is misunderstood. This was ...wildly unnecessary. The author could have used literally any other word instead of making light of trigger warnings. It simply acceptable. Mind you, this is an arc so maybe this will be corrected by the proof.

These things did not affect my rating, however as a gender nonconforming reader with an illness that has triggers, it truly stung to read them.

Themes: women of color, woc, call out culture, race, musicians, underground music, friendship, NYC, social media, feminism, social justice, activism 
2/5 stars 
Profile Image for julianna ➹.
207 reviews269 followers
June 9, 2021
the only reason i started reading this was because i thought this was abt lesbians :/// truly a sad day for all of us, but mostly and specifically me

thank you vivek shraya for giving me a headache during the audiobook 🙏

this was very on-the-nose about politics in a way that to me, wasn't groundbreaking enough to Not Be Annoying... and also, i guess vivek shraya mastered crafting unlikeable characters because i did not like either of them, at all

dnf @ 30%
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 59 books8,604 followers
March 24, 2023
Read duringthe #TransRightsReadathon.

Quite a hard story to classify. It's about two musicians, both brown: Neela, who is very much An Artist creating music to her own exacting standards, and Rukmini (self styled RUK-MINI in caps) who is basically a YouTuber who covers one of her songs and finds success. Their friendship is tentative, hanging to a large degree on Rukmini's admiration of Neela, torpedoed by Neela's jealousy that leads her to do a subtweet that blows up Rukmini's career.

It's an involving read that's very much about the difficulty of modern life (on the one hand, social media brings both women success in a way that the music industry would not; on the other, its horrific destructive powers and the dopamine treadmill are very much on display here). Success itself is of questionable value here: both women serve as opening act for a white pop star and start questioning how their music--passionate songs about self rooted in identity, many inspired by Black thinkers--works when it's being sung along to by majority white audiences at a pop concert. Does popularity inherently mean selling out in a white supremacist world? Who owns songs? At what point does homage or inspiration become appropriation?

Lots of chewy thoughts, no easy answers offered. This is very much a story of flawed people struggling with these ideas and more. Neither character is perfect: Neela's emotional insecurity is corrosive, Rukmini's desire for success is fatally undermined because she doesn't really believe in her own creativity. Neither of them communicates properly, and the friendship that works in person is a victim of electronic communications and especially the rush to instant judgement that is Twitter, and its glee in 'calling out' especially POC for the slightest perceived moral flaw.

I found the telling rather impeded by the very many unacknowledged time jumps which tended to jolt me out of the story and require a moment to work out when we were. It's possible this was done differently in print and a casualty of conversion to ebook? Or maybe it's a deliberate stylistic choice, but not one that worked for me. Nevertheless, a chewy read with a lot to say about speech and silence and being heard.
Profile Image for Alfredo.
387 reviews514 followers
August 2, 2020

"The Subtweet" segue duas artistas asiáticas que vivem no Canadá: Neela e Rukmini. Neela é uma cantora que há anos lança músicas que desafiam a lógica comercial e se recusa a ceder à fórmula pop. Seus álbuns nunca tiveram o reconhecimento que merecem, sendo ignorados pela crítica. Rukmini trabalha em um jornal e faz covers na internet. Quando Rukmini escolhe uma música Neela para cantar, a música viraliza. Elas viram amigas, mas logo a carreira de Rukmini começa a decolar mais rápido do que a de Neela, a amizade começa a desmoronar.

Eu não tinha muitas expectativas para esse livro. Peguei porque a premissa era interessante, a capa era bonita e ele não era tão longo assim. Nas primeiras páginas, a história já mostra para que veio. Essa é uma narrativa sobre amizade entre duas mulheres, o fazer artístico, redes sociais, pessoas brancas que querem se beneficiar o antirracismo, apropriação cultural, rivalidade feminina, a culpa colocada em pessoas não brancas versus a responsabilidade tirada dos ombros de pessoas brancas etc. Há muitas cenas fenomenais que fazem comentários sobre o consumo da cultura pop, a hipócrisia do público e a lógica capitalista.

“What was it about whiteness that seemed to elicit an infinite spring of faith and second chances?”

Achei as personagens extremamente bem desenvolvidas e complexas, assim como o enredo. Não é uma narrativa de respostas fáceis, especialmente porque ela questiona o tratamento dado a artistas não brancos numa cultura na qual a branquitude está no centro das atenções. Além disso, a escrita é no ponto. Não se demora em cenas irrelevantes e vai afundo em questões importantes.

Como se tudo isso não fosse suficiente, a autora disponibilizou no Spotify duas versões de "Every Song", a música que começou tudo, cantada por ela mesma! Tanto a versão "original" quanto o "cover" são incríveis. Estou ouvindo enquanto faço essa resenha e já sei cantar algumas linhas.

Caso alguém se pergunte por que o livro está marcado como LGBTQIA, é porque uma das personagens (Rukmini) é uma mulher trans! Não fica claro se Neela é cis ou trans.

Ouvi o audiobook narrado por Nisha Ahuja no Scribd. Ele também está disponível no Spotify e Audible gratuitamente. Recomendo MUITO!
Profile Image for Ameema S..
522 reviews44 followers
January 19, 2020
Predictably, I fell in love with this book in just a few pages. Sharp, thoughtful, complex, and truly wonderful - this book is a work of art.

Vivek captures the complexities of (brown) women’s friendship, the sharp edges of professional jealousy, the mercurial nature of the internet, and the essence of what it means to be a woman of colour who is also an artist.

She has written some incredible, fierce, multi-dimensional, flawed, and wonderful characters - in Neela and Rukmini, as well as in the secondary and supporting roles - and I found myself tearing through this book, wanting to know more about them.

This book is a complicated, messy love letter to Brown women, to music, to artistry, to creativity, to Toronto, to friendship. I zipped through it in a day, but I can already tell that I’m going to be thinking about it for a long time.

When I say that I felt “seen” by this book, I worry that it feels reductive and basic. But what I mean is - this book put my thoughts, feelings, and experiences into words and characters and events with such lucidity that it took my breath away. Shraya captures the complex dynamics of friendships, especially women’s friendship, and especially the friendships between women of colour with such remarkable clarity and thought. The tenderness, the connection, the solidarity, the support, the messiness, the competition - not just professional and personal jealousy born from wanting - but also the competition handed down and enforced by White and patriarchal systems that make us feel like maybe there can only be one of us.

UGH The Subtweet was so smart and so good.

This is not the book I thought it was going to be - it surprised me at every turn, and I already can’t wait to read it again.

Vivek has always been unapologetic in her writing - and each book I’ve read has impressed me and blown me away... but there’s something about The Subtweet that stuck out to me.

It’s bold, but in a quiet and sincere way. It’s smart and sharp and witty, yet kind and loving and beautiful. It’s a testament to friendships - how we make them, how we break them. It’s messy and sometimes ugly with bitterness, and frustration, and jealousy, and vitriol, but it’s also tender and wholesome, and full of love and loss and music.

This might be my favourite Vivek Shraya book yet.

I’m a book reviewer and Indigo employee, and am beyond grateful to the publisher for the advanced reading copy, and the chance to share my honest feedback.
Profile Image for Erik.
331 reviews221 followers
May 23, 2020
Vivek Shraya's "The Subtweet," a fictional tale of the woes of communication in an age of social media, is at times too true and at other times not true enough.

Rukmini bursts onto the music scene when she produces a Youtube pop cover of a song by Neela Devaki. An act that initiates a friendship quickly unfolds into a cautionary tale about indirect communication in a world controlled by white supremacy. Following the lives of four brown women, each part of this book gives life to elements of the experiences of women of color trying to make cultural names for themselves.

Shraya's storytelling is weak at first and her characters seem flat for most of the book; depth of character is all but absent throughout the story. Much of the writing feels "tropey" rather than critical and well-woven, a surprising fact since one of Shraya's characters discusses the importance of creators "showing rather than telling." Though the first half of the book is underdeveloped and hard to get into, the story picks up as the climax approaches and in the end Shraya redeems the book with a strong ending.

A cute yet cautionary story about the words beneath our words, "The Subtweet" is a quick read that is probably worth your time to pick up.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,114 followers
June 1, 2020
I loved this read that starts with one musician covering the song of another, and how that leads to a friendship until one becomes much more famous than the other. It's about friendship and cultural appropriation. The author does a fantastic job showing how relationships are complicated with texts and social media, and how music can unite and divide. Shraya posted the song as she envisioned it as well as the cover version; you can also listen to the audiobook of this book via her account in Spotify.
Profile Image for Giulia.
705 reviews105 followers
April 18, 2021
"If you are free, you are not predictable…"

TW: racism, anxiety

Unpopular Opinion Time 🐸☕️

Actual rating: 2.5 ⭐️

Please do not attack me. This book was simply not for me.
My rating should definitely not stop you if you are interested in reading this novel.
The real, shameful problem was that I simply did not care.

The cover is breathtaking, but even if the synopsis sounds delightful I was not particularly a fan of this book.

But first thing first, allow me to try and keep this Rather Random Review™️ as clear and straightforward as possible.
So let’s start with a short synopsis:
The Subtweet was a story about two brown women in their early thirties; their friendship; how this friendship ended because of a tweet feud, their envy of each other; social network culture (mainly Twitter) and pop music.
Rukmini enters onto the music scene when she publishes a cover of a song written and sung by Neela. When the two get together, nothing good or healthy come out of it.

This book was also so much more than what I tried to simply summarise in that super short synopsis. It was a 220-page long novel, but it dealt with a lot.
Actually, I think it dealt with too much.
Here for you is a short (and not by no means completed) list of the topics that were emphasized or mentioned in this book: cancel culture, originality in the music industry, social media, feminism, representation, call out culture, friendship, race, racism in the music industry, social justice, envy, white allyship, white supremacy – the more, the merrier really.
What a merry mess this was.

All this made for a superficial and not appropriately developed story, in my opinion. This novel attempted to address a lot of society's issues without successfully analysing and questioning most of these arguments. Which was a pity, because the topics were incredibly interesting and allowed a glimpse into society and the experiences of women of colour in the music industry.

Unfortunately these nails were not hit on the head. They were kinda completely missed, tbh.
I think this book tried to say a lot of things (definitely too many things), but I felt like it did not manage to break the surface level in any of those captivating discussions.

As already said, too many topics made for a confusing and superficial read. But the characters were also superficial and two-dimensional, sadly.
All the characters felt flat and without a proper personality. They did not grow throughout the story, they made the same mistakes over and over, and kept on having the same toxic thoughts over and over, and kept on having harmful secrets.
As a matter of fact, the main problem of this book was the use of the miscommunication trope.
It was like salt: present no matter where.
And that annoyed me to no end. It was frustrating to say the least.

Because of this two-dimensionality of the characters, I did not care about them and their story. The two women have constant anxiety about what the other is really saying, thinking and feeling through what they tweet – or, rather, sub-tweet. They kept on trying to read between the lines but never actually have a goddamn conversation.
As a matter of fact, when the conflict happened, it was centered completely on miscommunication. Rather than having a normal, adult conversation to understand what was happening, things kept on being left unsaid and passive-aggressively sub-tweeted. They both had internal monologues about the various aspects that hurt them and made them feel insecure, and yet, they did absolutely freaking nothing to fix all this and improve their friendship.
These two characters were, mind you, in their thirties. They were not teenagers but they sure as hell acted like one. Both Neela and Rukmini behaved like they were sixteen where they should have been in their thirties.
The petty drama and hard to believe friendship did not fascinate me.

Indeed, it seemed as if after a couple of tweets, Instagram messages and some superficial interactions in real life, Neela and Rukmini became the bestest of friends, seemingly out of the blue. Their friendship was not credible; it felt unrealistic, rushed and shallow. And so I was not interested.

Since The Subtweet centered mainly around this intense (albeit toxic) friendship between Neela and Rukmini, and I was unquestionably not interested in this friendship, as a result I was aggressively not interested in the story as a whole.
The fact that miscommunication was the only thing that pushed the story forward killed me, mate.
It killed me.

Actually, this whole book killed me, not gonna lie.

There was nothing if not miscommunication to propel the story; the characters were immature and two-dimensional; the plot was heavy with topics and discussions that felt as if were only casually mentioned (just like one of the main character being trans. Mentioned once, never tackled ever again. Okay, I guess). And the ending was incredibly abrupt. I am generally okay with open endings but this one felt as if the book was cut short.

The topics tackled might have been interesting in theory, but the execution was, in my opinion, a bit lacking.
Nonetheless, I’d say that even if this one was not for me, I can see this book’s potential very clearly. So if you have any interest in reading The Subtweet, please do pick this up! And I hope you enjoy it :)

"I am endlessly creating myself."
Profile Image for Allie (alliewithbooks).
353 reviews611 followers
July 1, 2022
This was quite an interesting book. I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to think about it when I first started it, but I was willing to give it a full chance. This book is very on-the-nose in every imaginable way. With every topic it attempts to navigate through, it does so in a way that feels painfully obvious. The experience of reading this book felt like reading twitter threads from a well-meaning, but ultimately new and overzealous activist. I’m still not totally sure if that was the intention, but I assumed it was since the characters are meant to be unlikeable and satirising online culture. I did think that the author attempted to confront too many topics at once. Sometimes it worked, other times it felt clumsy. I also had a hard time of following the narrative and the characters at times. There were moments in the middle and towards the end where I couldn’t really figure out what was going on. There were a lot of characters and it was hard to keep them all straight when they all sounded the same. I will say that there was a lot that I enjoyed, like seeing the dynamics between these women and also the queer POC representation. I also love getting to read about unlikeable female characters, so that was a plus as well.
Profile Image for Sunny.
698 reviews3,686 followers
May 17, 2020
A hilarious and self aware examination of racism in the music industry, friendships between women of color, and the complicated relationship social media has on artists. This book deserves more hype. I also really appreciated how it illustrated how easily interpersonal drama can get politicized and also the contrasting nature of hyper-wokeness and white ignorance on the people's internet.
Profile Image for Bill Muganda.
361 reviews229 followers
January 20, 2021
An interesting packaged narrative showcasing brown women tackling the creative space, being inspired by each other, building each other, and a deeper look into how they navigate the complex world of social media, ultimately opening up a whole lot of questions in regards to representation and identity. It felt like a long tweeter thread with so many angles, voices, misunderstandings that didn't hold that much urgency to me. Did enjoy the friendship aspect, the passion each character presented, and how convoluted social media can be when it comes to ironing out complex issues of diversity. Definitely interesting but didn't move me that much.
Profile Image for Sabrina.
289 reviews356 followers
June 26, 2020
I loved this novel because it is about the messiness of friendship. It felt extremely refreshing to read a relationship-focused novel that was about friends rather than a romantic relationship. It also contained very relatable social media anxieties, such as the implications of a subtweet. I wish we had seen more of the growth and evolution of Neela and Rukmini's friendship (it feels like we go from meet-cute to besties pretty quickly), but I thought it was a very successful and thought-provoking social commentary. It addresses issues including white-guilt, performative wokeness, cultural appropriation, and how women of color are silenced, particularly in the music industry. I would highly recommend it!
Profile Image for Tara.
777 reviews324 followers
November 19, 2020
The writing itself is deft and incisive, propelling the reader through every event and conversation at lightning speed. At the same time, The Subtweet’s story is incredibly layered, asking a number of questions without necessarily coming to any answers. Who are creators of colour creating their art for? Should they be trying to achieve a certain level of commercial success? If they want to live off their art, how much of that depends on creating for (or perhaps pandering to) white audiences? Is callout culture working for or against artists, especially artists of colour? How many talented brown women are creating art and most of us will never know who they are?

Full review: https://www.lambdaliterary.org/2020/0...
Profile Image for Briar's Reviews.
1,898 reviews516 followers
July 23, 2023
The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya is a beautifully moving novel following the struggles with fame and social media.

If you are looking for a contemporary read that touches deep topics but makes it easy to digest, this book is perfect. Sexism, racism, relationship/friendship drama, the negative sides of the internet and social media, and the darkness of the music industry are all touched on. And to make this book even better? LGBTQ+ representation, and in such a beautiful way that it's not forced and thrown in your face.

Vivek Shraya is an artist and an author. The Subtweet is moving but also has a great analysis in it of culture today, all packed into one excellent fictional book. I wish I had more books like this in school where it's easy to read but also really punches you in the gut with it's meaning. It's so beautiful! Pick it up! Give Vivek all the love!

Also, I need to grab some more Vivek Shraya books! ASAP!

Five out of five stars.
Profile Image for Enne.
718 reviews112 followers
May 11, 2020
2.5 stars

This book isn't bad by any means, so please don't let my rating as a sign that you shouldn't read this because I feel like that rating is definitely a problem with me and not at all a problem with the book. I really wanted to enjoy this and I'm so disappointed that I didn't.

My main issue with this book is that I just did not care about any of it. Neela annoyed me for most of the first half of the book and while she somewhat grew on me in the second half of the story, I still couldn't find the energy to care about the outcome of her story.

The only part of this story that I actually enjoyed was the friendship between Neela and Rukmini when it was first starting out but I also got bored with that really quickly because it felt like it got repetitive after a while.

There were also a few off-hand comments in the book that kind of bothered me but I'm not going to get into it because I'll just feel like I'm being over-dramatic so!! that's fun!!

I think this book tried to say a lot of things, but I feel like it didn't go beyond the surface level in any of those discussions, which was definitely a let-down. This book didn't bring anything new to the table when it comes to the discussion on social media and cancel culture and I feel like that was the main thing it was trying to do. However, I will say that it was nice to see this discussion from the point of view of two women of color in the music industry.

I also wasn't a fan of the ending. While there is definitely a lot to be said for open endings, this ending didn't just feel open, it felt very abrupt, to the point where I was convinced that my audiobook was broken lmao.

Overall, this book was just not for me at all. I think there is definitely an audience for this book but I was not it.
Profile Image for Emma.
70 reviews23 followers
May 7, 2020
PLEASE READ THIS BOOK, you won't regret it.

Oh my, what a pleasant surprise this was.

This is a story about friendships, coming together and falling apart. About jealousy, fame and creativity, self-love and pride.

The issues this book tackled are so well approached: what is it like, to be a Brown woman in the North American music industry? Why are women of color always put in competition, as if they couldn't coexist, together, at the front of the main scene? How can you love someone, wishing them the best, and at the same time, feeling bad for yourself when they get what you've always wanted?

"Was she nothing more than a prologue to Rukmini's story?"

I loved the use of social media, how Vivek Shraya showed how they became a tool of communication, way more intimate than texts and calls. How a tweet, a split-second decision, can change everything.

Reading the Subtweet was a ride: this is a fast-paced novel, with bouncy dialogues, likeable but also flawed characters, that makes them even more human. I wanted it to last, and the ending had agape.
Profile Image for Amber.
630 reviews27 followers
November 12, 2019
I am kind of expecting this to create very polarized reviews... full review hopefully to come closer to release date.
Profile Image for Hilary Land.
85 reviews
May 19, 2020
This book was a love letter to Toronto and one that was much appreciated while I quarantine in my house around the corner from grapefruit moon.
Profile Image for Tara.
565 reviews8 followers
April 7, 2023
Wow, this novella is like a little work of art, the writing is lush, the characters are complicated and feel real, the social commentary is so nuanced with varying perspectives. A really fascinating work discussing friendship and rivalry, how artists of color are treated by the music industry/fans/white people, art and ownership... it really digs into a lot in a short amount of time. Given that one of the characters is said to be trans I did wonder why that wasn't included in later critiques related to this character, but given the depth and amount of nuance the story already had maybe that just wasn't where the author wanted to put the focus. The audiobook was great, but the quick pace of dialogue and changing POV's did make it a bit hard to follow at times, I picked up my physical copy a few times to get my bearings.
Profile Image for Leah.
578 reviews2 followers
February 28, 2021

this book is so smart! I think it gets bogged down, story wise, while trying to make its points and the last 1/3 is too scattered. weirdly I think it's the least successful when it gets too in detail about social media and the internet (although the depictions of twitter are realistically messy and don't feel outdated). there is something really special about neela and rukmini's intense friendship, and I loved that you hear from both of them about the other person. everyone in this story can clearly see some essential element about their lives or their friend's lives, and also miss something glaringly obvious. I wish the book had stayed focused on the central relationships instead of introducing extraneous details, but overall a very engaging book.
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