“A timely and compelling look at internet fame and how fickle it really is.… You’ll likely devour it in one sitting.” — Ms. Magazine
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.
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Vivek Shraya is an artist whose body of work crosses the boundaries of music, literature, visual art, theater, and film. Her bestselling book I’m Afraid of Men was heralded by Vanity Fair as “cultural rocket fuel,” and her album with Queer Songbook Orchestra, Part-Time Woman, was nominated for the Polaris Music Prize. She is one half of the music duo Too Attached and the founder of the publishing imprint VS. Books. A five-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, Vivek has also received honors from the Writers’ Trust of Canada and the Publishing Triangle. She is a director on the board of the Tegan and Sara Foundation and an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Calgary.
Published: April 2020
Dimensions: 5 x 7.75 in.
“A beautifully crafted novel about race, music, and social media . . . In this timely novel, Shraya speaks to a modern audience with bold cultural insight, confronting the difficulties of being a brown artist and the drastic impact social media can have on pop culture.” — Booklist
“Vivek Shraya’s The Subtweet is a sharp, encompassing story . . . A piercing satire played out against diverse creative energies, The Subtweet is affecting, unnerving, empowering, and often truly LOL.” — Foreword Reviews, starred review
“The Subtweet takes the topic of online life and allows it to become simply part of the lives of its fully human, complex characters. What emerges is a deeply moving tale about the relationships between artists and friends. Biting and beautiful, it’s written with heart by an essential voice.” — Jonny Sun, author of Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too
“So engaging. I can’t think of anything I’ve read that has captured Twitter culture so well. There is something special in this book that really touches on the absurdity and pressure of social media and art. I couldn’t put it down.” — Sara Quin, of Tegan and Sara
“With signature humor and heart, Shraya delivers another radiant book.” — Bookmarks (Literary Hub)
“There’s a lot of love in this novel, but—refreshingly—not a single romance. Vivek Shraya’s The Subtweet does a number of things: it celebrates the self and examines both the art of BIPOC women in white spaces and the corruptive influence of social media, all while remaining plot centric.” — Shrapnel Magazine
“The Subtweet is a smart, funny, incisive, heart-crushing interrogation of art, race, friendship, social media, and the music industry. These characters and their self-destructive self-doubt are compelling, real, and vivid. I wanted to live-tweet my reading because I’m just obsessed.” — Andrea Warner, author of Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography
“The luminous Vivek Shraya’s latest is a timely and compelling look at internet fame and how fickle it really is. Written in Shraya’s distinct voice, you’ll likely devour it in one sitting.” — Ms. Magazine
“In offering this nuanced representation of desire and friendship, both IRL and URL, The Subtweet shows us that in a world that pathologizes vulnerability as weakness, we need now, more than ever, to let others see just how much we want to be friends.” — Rabble.ca
“The Subtweet is a gripping interrogation of friendship and social media . . . 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 . . . The Subtweet is a riveting read, and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s so vividly centered in the here and now. It details how we live online and the truth we choose to reveal versus what we conceal. Run, do not walk, for this book, because it will be well worth your time.” — Lambda Literary
“In The Subtweet, author and musician Vivek Shraya explores race, sexism, and queerness through music in the digital age. She maintains a focused plot while commenting on each of these factors, because real lives are multifaceted. This book satisfies the need for relevant social commentary, while still being a fun read.” — The Gateway (University of Alberta publication)
“The dynamic between friends is drawn in all its pain and power in Shraya’s story of Neela, a respected working musician, and Rukmini, a fan who becomes something more. The depiction of the indie music scene is deliciously rich and populated with insider observations, while the love-hate relationship the characters maintain with social media will be familiar to anyone who's ever hate-liked a post.” — Quill & Quire’s “Best Books of the Year 2020: Editor’s Picks”
“With the freedom that fiction provides, Shraya took The Subtweet deep into the topics of hate-liking, social media friendships, and Internet celebrities. And the plot, as fast-paced as life on the Internet, shows clearly the way that jealousy and obsession can take shape within the open borders of the online world.” — NPR Books
“It is clear that Shraya is pouring everything she’s learned from years of writing and making music into a text that combines rhythm and deft technique in bitingly original ways. It is equally clear in The Subtweet that Shraya is using the vehicle of fiction to hash out many of the valid frustrations she’s accumulated over years of navigating the Canadian culture scene . . . Shraya skilfully shows this complexity by depicting characters who are frequently ridiculous, petty, and even malicious, while simultaneously pushing readers to understand the underlying systemic factors driving their frustrating actions.” — Quill & Quire
“Complex female friendship! Making art as a woman of color! The double-edged sword of being visible! What more could you want?” — Book Riot
“A piercing portrait of how internet fame, race, and commerce warp the way we create art in the digital age.” — Chatelaine
“[A] masterpiece . . . A book that feels far more like modern life than most works of contemporary fiction . . . The book begins with the line: Neela Devaki was an original. Vivek Shraya is an original too. Every new work from her – fiction, nonfiction, music, theatre, photography, some combination of mediums – could be described with a list of emphatic adjectives. But above all else each work feels like her. That’s the most any artist – and audience – could want.” — Autostraddle
“A true page-turner, this novel will leave you with questions about race and power dynamics within our culture, the efficacy/validity of cancel or call out culture, how we communicate, brown female friendships and more . . . The plot and characters are vibrant and beg you to keep reading. It’s an artistic blend of musicality, pop culture and academic theory – which sounds like it won’t work but totally does in this book. I had a hard time putting this book down and will definitely be recommending it to all my friends.” — Simply Stasia blog
“A subtle mystery — it captures the adrenaline-filled strange alienation and over-visibility of social media, the sedimentations of racism, and the vicissitudes of female friendship. This is a literary novel as well as a hyper-contemporary one. I literally gasped.” — Erin Wunker, author of Notes from a Feminist Killjoy
“The book uses digital miscommunication as both a device for humor and a source of conflict, to hilarious and often illuminating effect . . . [Shraya] writes with a refreshing brevity that lends itself to a fast-paced read . . . Shraya expertly builds a vivid fictional world that veers eerily close to reality.” — them
“Characters are the most important part of any piece of fiction for me, and The Subtweet is a prime example of why. Shraya does such an incredible job of showing how achingly real people who exist only in a novel can be . . . The concepts in The Subtweet are as thoughtfully explored as the characters . . . I don’t think I’ve ever read a contemporary work of fiction that so authentically and meaningfully integrates social media into the narrative.” — Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian blog
“The Subtweet is a quick and fun read. It’s introspective enough to keep you thinking long after you’re done reading, but it’s light enough to race through in a few days.” — I’ve Read This blog
“The characterization of Neela and Rukmini is incredible, as is Shraya’s thoughtful, nuanced exploration of the issues the novel brings up.” — Book Riot’s “Best Books of 2020 So Far”