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The Subtweet

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  241 ratings  ·  80 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 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  241 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, favorites
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.
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 Rukkini 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 Neela's (more established) songs. The story investigates brown female friendship, prof ...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
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian, lgbtqia
This novel surpassed my already high expectations. I loved it, I didn't want it to end, I miss it now.
Ameema Saeed
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
The Artisan Geek
Dec 12, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcase

A huge thank you to ECW for gifting me a copy of this book!! I love a good book about friendship - can't wait! :D

You can find me on
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* I received a digital ARC of this book (via NetGalley) from its publisher in exchange for an honest review.

🌻 My links: Blog | Instagram | Twitter
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.
Enne (they/them)
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
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.
May 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
May 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbt, poc-authored
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
Shafiya Mū (Yon Nyan)
Whoa, what a fucking ride of emotion and complex examinations of so many vital themes. From the critical look at the toxicity of social media culture to the devastating impacts of self-doubt, fear, and racial insecurities to the dynamics of what it means to be “brown enough”—there’s just so much brilliance in these pages and then some. Again, whoa.

4.25 peppermint teas outta 5!
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
Lizz DiCesare
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Friends, it’s happened again. I recently read another book that I loved so much I’m having a hard time finding the words to describe it. I wasn’t too sure what to expect from The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya, but it exceeded all of my expectations. It was incredibly smart, well-written, and made me think a lot, even days after finishing it.

The story follows two female artists, Neela Devaki and Rukmini. They’re both musicians living in Toronto, who become fast friends while bonding over being two bro
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i really liked the exploration of how the success of one person can split two friends apart, and thought the descriptions of jealousy, both rational and not, came across as completely real and warranted. the discussions on culture and lack of diversity in music were really the true foundation of the book that showed that there were more underlying issues than just someone having more followers than the other. rukmini seemed a bit too shallow of a character at times though, while neela felt more ...more
It's hard to even write a review for The Subtweet that does this book justice, because there's so much to touch upon - the friendship of Rukmini and Neela, the look into the music industry and how it treats brown women artists, how making art has become intertwined with feeding the capitalist machine. This book artfully takes a look at so many different aspects of a musician's life, connecting the threads together while also untangling the ones that have become almost insufferable. I loved seein ...more
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

I was initially drawn to The Subtweet for its promise of diversity, but what ended up hooking me was its thoughtful discussion about social media and the music industry. In these ages of digital influencing, social media, activism, and speaking out, The Subtweet examines the intersection of fame, music, and activism. It opened up spaces in my mind for me to think about the nature
Cicely Belle Blain
Wow! This was a phenomenal read. So fresh and rich and exciting - I fell so deeply and complexly in love with the characters and their relationships with none another. Shraya's poetic wording made this read like a dreamy anthology but still told a bold and brilliant tale of race, gender, connection and music.
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
delightful and brilliant and refreshing and addictive and SO EMOTIONALLY RICH! she’s done it again, folks! i’m sad it’s over!
Alison Jacques
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-authors, arc

This is my first time reading Vivek Shraya -- I've been off nonfiction for the last while, so I was excited to see that she had a novel coming out. I requested and received an advance reading copy of The Subtweet from ECW Press.

This is a book about women, friendship, music, race, social media culture, and Toronto. I read it quickly and really enjoyed it. The story contains a lot of dialogue and moves fast, partly by jumping over periods of time. I *loved* that there was no love interest,
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE SUBTWEET is the perfect novel for our time. Obviously, thanks to the title, the plot and relationships are rooted in social media and now technology affections our communication. But the story is also about culture clashes, women of color finding their place in a white-dominated music industry, and prejudice and jealousy from all types of different people. I loved following the main characters, Neela and Rukmini, as they develop a friendship and deal with the consequences of artistic and pro ...more
Kate (Reading Through Infinity)
I read this as a bookclub pick and this is a really well-written thoughtful story about what it's like to be a woman of colour in the music industry.

Neela Devaki’s and Rukmini become good friends after Rukmini covers one of Neela's songs, but as Rukmini's fame and popularity grow, Neela feels left behind. One subtweet changes everything.

The narrative is stylised and full of emotion, meaning it's easy to track exactly how Neela and Rukmini are feeling in every chapter. I really liked both chara
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A realistic account of friendship in the era social media.

Neela's song gets covered by internet-famous star Rukmini. The two women meet and their life changing friendship begins. But just as Rukmini's rising to fame and Neela's stalls, jelousy and self doubt surfaces and with a single tweet their friendship collapses, and they find themselves in the center of an online feude.

This was a captivating read! Vivek Shraya has brought to light so much here, more than just the focus on Twitter and the
its been a day since i read it and i still cant figure out what shraya was trying to say, or if they were trying to say anything at all. the whole book is centered around these desi women and their relationships w each other but none of said relationships have any weight to me bc theyre never actually *friends* and they dissolve almost as soon as theyre formed. their interactions with whiteness are frustrating and thought provoking ig but for what? nothing comes about because of them. the plot f ...more
Wait, what just happened??? I need a moment to collect myself.
The more I sit with this the more this actually only is a 3 stars
Rebecca MacDonald
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
An absolutely engrossing read. The characters were so beautifully written, reflecting the insecurities of a modern age and the inspiration we draw from each other. And a beautiful expose of the structural inequalities that exist in the music industry (and beyond). I wish this was a series because I didn't want this book to end!
Shraya does a phenomenal job of assessing our interactions with social media, race politics (of both in- and out-groups), and what it means to be an artist in Canada. This book reminds me a lot of Such a Fun Age, but the perspective is drastically different; by looking primarily at the interactions between different women of a similar racial identity, a different species of in-group policing emerges. Also, I know that they say not to judge a book by it's cover, but this one is $&%@ing gorgeous, ...more
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book for its candor, its playfulness, and the fact that it balances humor with taking very seriously the ways in which social media is not relegated to youth culture and YA novels but profoundly influences adult lives. Also, this book centers women's friendship without any romance at all! Praise. Plus also, it centers trans characters without making them Trans TM. This is not for the cis gaze, so praise again. It's super readable and fully embraces the complexities of identity, witho ...more
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Vivek Shraya is an artist whose body of work crosses the boundaries of music, poetry, fiction, visual art, and film. A Publishing Triangle Award winner, her books include I'm Afraid of Men, even this page is white, The Boy & The Bindi, and She of the Mountains. Shraya is one half of music duo Too Attached and founder of publishing imprint VS. Books. She teaches creative writing at the Universi ...more

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