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 brown women in the same creative industry. Rukmini does a cover of one of Neela’s songs, which takes off, and then the drama begins. Of course, Neela is happy for her friend at first, but then she starts to question who exactly Rukmini is performing for: their community, or white people? After Neela publishes a late-night sub-tweet, online drama (and real life issues) begin to unfold.
The Subtweet did an amazing job of showing the stress and anxiety that social media can cause. All of the characters are active on Twitter and Instagram, and comment on how often people post, who likes what content, and try to decipher the meanings behind people’s vague captions. There’s also discussions about hate-liking content, and of course, sub-tweeting. I’ve never seen a book delve so deeply into these topics. It shows how social media can help artists in a positive way, but also create irreversible, negative situations as well.
Throughout the book, I also found myself reflecting on my privilege (as a cis white woman) while reading. I always challenge myself to read diverse books, and this was one of the most diverse I’ve read in a while. I couldn’t personally relate to any of the characters, but I was able to learn about different experiences that people have, and learn from them.
I read this book incredibly fast, and never wanted it to end. It explores female friendship, racism, social media, and arts and culture so well. It’s literary fiction with a contemporary twist, and I can’t recommend it enough (if you’re interested in reading about any of those things).
Thank you to ECW Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya comes out on April 7, 2020, and can be pre-ordered or purchased wherever books are sold.