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The Subtweet

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  2,649 ratings  ·  524 reviews
"Biting and beautiful." -- Jonny Sun, author of everyone's a aliebn when ur a aliebn too

Everyone talks about falling in love, but falling in friendship can be just as captivating. When Neela Devaki's song is covered by internet-famous artist Rukmini, the two musicians meet and a transformative friendship begins.

But as Rukmini's star rises and Neela's stagnates, jealousy an
Hardcover, 220 pages
Published April 7th 2020 by ECW Press
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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,649 ratings  ·  524 reviews

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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 friendsh
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
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recs, 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.
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 friend ...more
Jesse bowtiesandbooks
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 examinati
Alice Lippart
Quite an interesting story about female friendship. Really liked the social media aspect.
julianna ➹
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%
Ameema S.
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 s
Jenny (Reading Envy)
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 Spot ...more
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
* I received a digital ARC of this book (via NetGalley) from its publisher in exchange for an honest review.

🌻 My links: Blog | Instagram | Twitter
May 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poc-authored, lgbt
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
laurel [the suspected bibliophile]
Ooooooooh this was gooooooood.

Definitely a must read—and the audiobook is fantastically narrated!

Full RTC
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-lgbtq, the-dirty
"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™️ a
Bill Khaemba
Jan 20, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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, an ...more
Nov 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-releases
did i read this 2 + 1/2 hours before one of my exams? yes
should i not have considering it was an exam on a paper i am not doing well in? yes
do i regret spending all that time reading this book instead of, idk, studying? fuck NO

i really enjoyed this, and i'm excited to pick up Shraya's other book I'm Afraid of Men, which i've heard is a m a z i n g. but for this read, i really loved all the topics and commentary that was made: on making music, social media and the trap of finding self-worth in t
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-provokin ...more
Natasha Niezgoda
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-voice, lgbt, fiction
Wow. I learned so much about the music industry!

Review to come!
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 ...more
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 f
May 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am kind of expecting this to create very polarized reviews... full review hopefully to come closer to release date.
Hilary Land
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 28, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-fic

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 ca
Molly Ferguson
Oct 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved that this book was about friendship and fame in the internet age--I'm so interested in how social media is shaping relationships and Shraya does an excellent job of chronicling that. I found the book very funny at first, and then the humor kind of dissipated, and the narration was a little inconsistent. The commentary about making art in a white supremacist culture machine was fascinating! ...more
This book does some interesting things. I enjoyed the stripped-down, bare-bones format that focused mainly on forwarding the plot. Shraya uses it to conduct a nuanced examination of fame, culture, activism, relationships, and social media's impact on all of the above. It took on some hard questions and offered perspective on fallible characters. This was a thought-provoking reading experience in multiple ways.

#DeweysApril #readathon
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Jul 26, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intriguing little read. I found the start a bit shaky, and difficult to read at points, with so many technical aspects packed in. It didn't quite flow the way I would have liked. Still, I thought Neela was a very interesting, layered character who I was both sympathetic for and frustrated by throughout. Much of the same goes for Rukmini.

It's my intrigue in these characters, and all their depths, that left me a bit unsatisfied by the end of the book. It felt like there were so many more place
This story about the 1) start and end of a friendship between two South Asian women living in Toronto. It’s also 2) an examination of the ways brown women are ignored, diminished, forgotten, used by not only the music industry but generally by the dominant, white culture. And how ally-ship can be performative, thoughtless and belittling, rather than what it needs to be.
The main characters weren’t precisely likeable, and, were consequently much more believable in their need for validation, creati
Feb 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Subtweet, reading about the friendship between two south asian female artists was wonderful. This was the first Vivek Shraya book I've read, and will be picking up more. The balance and contrast between reserved and outwardly brown women was real and relatable. It's a very fast paced novel and kept me engaged throughout. The ending felt a bit abrupt but overall still a great read. ...more
Bogi Takács
Review a bit later IY"H, because I still need to listen to the OST (yes, there is an OST!!).
Source of the book: Lawrence Public Library
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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 Attac ...more

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This June, as we observe LGBTQ Pride—the annual celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning communities—we...
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“Unlike many artists, she had never considered herself a mere vessel for the muse, or a medium, or even a parent. Her songs weren't her "babies". Her songs were her.” 3 likes
“What was it about whiteness that seemed to elicit an infinite spring of faith and second chances?” 1 likes
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