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Startup
Cover of Startup
Startup
A Novel

"A biting and astute debut novel [with] many delights." —Lara Vapnyar, New York Times Book Review
Recommended as a book to read this month by BuzzFeed, Bustle, Entertainment Weekly, Fast Company, Nylon, Town & Country and Lit Hub
One of the most anticipated books of 2017—Vulture, BuzzFeed, The Millions, Nylon, PopSugar and Book Riot's "All the Books" Podcast
From veteran online journalist and BuzzFeed writer Doree Shafrir comes a hilarious debut novel that proves there are some dilemmas that no app can solve.

Mack McAllister has a $600 million dollar idea. His mindfulness app, TakeOff, is already the hottest thing in tech and he's about to launch a new and improved version that promises to bring investors running and may turn his brainchild into a $1 billion dollar business—in startup parlance, an elusive unicorn.
Katya Pasternack is hungry for a scoop that will drive traffic. An ambitious young journalist at a gossipy tech blog, Katya knows that she needs more than another PR friendly puff piece to make her the go-to byline for industry news.
Sabrina Choe Blum just wants to stay afloat. The exhausted mother of two and failed creative writer is trying to escape from her credit card debt and an inattentive husband-who also happens to be Katya's boss-as she rejoins a work force that has gotten younger, hipper, and much more computer literate since she's been away.
Before the ink on Mack's latest round of funding is dry, an errant text message hints that he may be working a bit too closely for comfort with a young social media manager in his office. When Mack's bad behavior collides with Katya's search for a salacious post, Sabrina gets caught in the middle as TakeOff goes viral for all the wrong reasons. As the fallout from Mack's scandal engulfs the lower Manhattan office building where all three work, it's up to Katya and Sabrina to write the story the men in their lives would prefer remain untold.
An assured, observant debut from the veteran online journalist Doree Shafrir, Startup is a sharp, hugely entertaining story of youth, ambition, love, money and technology's inability to hack human nature.


"A biting and astute debut novel [with] many delights." —Lara Vapnyar, New York Times Book Review
Recommended as a book to read this month by BuzzFeed, Bustle, Entertainment Weekly, Fast Company, Nylon, Town & Country and Lit Hub
One of the most anticipated books of 2017—Vulture, BuzzFeed, The Millions, Nylon, PopSugar and Book Riot's "All the Books" Podcast
From veteran online journalist and BuzzFeed writer Doree Shafrir comes a hilarious debut novel that proves there are some dilemmas that no app can solve.

Mack McAllister has a $600 million dollar idea. His mindfulness app, TakeOff, is already the hottest thing in tech and he's about to launch a new and improved version that promises to bring investors running and may turn his brainchild into a $1 billion dollar business—in startup parlance, an elusive unicorn.
Katya Pasternack is hungry for a scoop that will drive traffic. An ambitious young journalist at a gossipy tech blog, Katya knows that she needs more than another PR friendly puff piece to make her the go-to byline for industry news.
Sabrina Choe Blum just wants to stay afloat. The exhausted mother of two and failed creative writer is trying to escape from her credit card debt and an inattentive husband-who also happens to be Katya's boss-as she rejoins a work force that has gotten younger, hipper, and much more computer literate since she's been away.
Before the ink on Mack's latest round of funding is dry, an errant text message hints that he may be working a bit too closely for comfort with a young social media manager in his office. When Mack's bad behavior collides with Katya's search for a salacious post, Sabrina gets caught in the middle as TakeOff goes viral for all the wrong reasons. As the fallout from Mack's scandal engulfs the lower Manhattan office building where all three work, it's up to Katya and Sabrina to write the story the men in their lives would prefer remain untold.
An assured, observant debut from the veteran online journalist Doree Shafrir, Startup is a sharp, hugely entertaining story of youth, ambition, love, money and technology's inability to hack human nature.

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About the Author-
  • Doree Shafrir is a senior culture writer at BuzzFeed News and has written for New York Magazine, Slate, The Awl, Rolling Stone, Wired and other publications. A former resident of Brooklyn, she now lives in Los Angeles with her husband Matt Mira, a comedy writer and podcaster, and their dog Beau.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 20, 2017
    In her debut, BuzzFeed culture writer Shafrir skewers a world she knows well—startup culture and the outlets assigned to cover it. The story, told from three alternating perspectives, focuses on two companies renting space in a Manhattan office building. TakeOff, a mindfulness app, is on the verge of revolutionizing the world—or of failing miserably, depending on whether founder Mack McAllister can secure the next round of funding. Elsewhere in the building, ambitious millennial journalist Katya Pasternack has been given a mandate by her employer, the blog TechScene, to report real tech news, not just regurgitate influencers’ tweets. Caught in the middle is Katya’s boss’s wife Sabrina, a newly hired (and, at 36, downright old) social media “ninja” at TakeOff. When a potential sexual harassment scandal threatens to make Katya’s career and break Mack’s chances at a billion-dollar valuation, the ensuing commotion reveals not only personal conflicts but also the not-so-hidden hypocrisies at the heart of the tech boom. Shafrir’s satirical observations, about such topics as the nonstop snacking in startup offices, are often astute; unfortunately, they’re also often made multiple times. Also, in a novel that seems in part intended to highlight sexism in the tech industry, the object of the sexual harassment incident remains largely voiceless. Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable send-up that, unlike so many of the characters it portrays, doesn’t take itself too seriously.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from February 15, 2017
    Veteran journalist Shafrir, currently of BuzzFeed News, sharply skewers tech culture in a feminist satire that's as addictive as it is biting.At 28, Mack McAllister, golden boy of Silicon Alley, is the founder of TakeOff, a workplace-wellness app (tell it how you're feeling and it makes you feel better!) valued at $600 million (a billion, hopefully, not this funding round, maybe, but next). Katya Pasternack is an ambitious young reporter at TechScene ("Tech news straight, no chaser") who knows that while she's a master of raking in the traffic--her posts top the charts--she needs a game-changing scoop to prove her chops and, more urgently, keep her job amid an ominous companywide "audit." Meanwhile, Katya's boss, Dan Blum, downright wizened at 39, is unhappily married to Sabrina Choe Blum, a failed novelist and exhausted mother of two in serious credit-card debt. And as it happens, Sabrina has recently (and somewhat desperately) taken an ill-fitting social media job at--where else?--TakeOff. Then one fateful night, Mack, who has been getting rather friendly with Sabrina's young, pretty boss, fires off a series of unfortunate texts--texts that, by virtue of the incestuous New York tech scene, aren't so private after all. And so the game is in play: Mack's in trouble; Katya's hungry for a story; and Sabrina, involuntarily entangled on both sides, ends up in the eye of the brewing storm. Increasingly fed up with the near-endless entitlement of the men in their lives, Katya and Sabrina--unlikely allies--find themselves working toward a shared goal: to expose the tech-bro patriarchy for what it is. Exacting, though not without empathy--Shafrir renders even the most infuriating of her characters with unexpected humanity--the novel is a page-turning pleasure that packs a punch. To call it expertly observed is an understatement.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • PRAISE FOR STARTUP: PRAISE FOR STARTUP:
  • Entertainment Weekly Though often wickedly witty, Startup is so much more than mere satire; it's a smart, deeply empathetic novel genuinely interested in exploring the way we live now.
  • Kim Hubbard, People This funny, empowering debut is chock-full of strong women transcending the workplace drama, sexual politics, and all-around dumb stuff the men in their life are doing. It's a novel that just might spark the official feministing of startup culture. If I were a tech bro, I'd be shaking in my hoodie.
  • Rumaan Alam, author of Rich and Pretty Don't buy this book. Don't open. Don't start reading it. Because if you do, I can assure you, you won't be able to put it down. I was hooked from the first page and found myself lost in a beautifully-written fiction that so succinctly echoes today's bizarre reality.
  • Camille Perri, author of The Assistants Is there a satirist alive more brilliant—and more insightful—than Doree Shafrir? That I tore through Startup in a single day—ignoring the cries of my children and the dinging of my phone, laughing with recognition at her characters' foibles-is perhaps not nearly as significant as the fact that this ridiculously compelling novel has haunted me, every minute, in the weeks that followed. If you have ever lived in New York or worked in an office, you will love this novel. If you love the novels of Tom Perrotta, you will love this novel. But also: If you are a sentient human, you will love this novel.
  • Nick Bilton, Special Correspondent, Vanity Fair and author of Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal Doree Shafrir's Startup is like a thrilling combination of Po Bronson's Bombardiers and Jessica Knoll's Luckiest Girl Alive. Shafrir has set heartbreak and romance in the ticking clock environment of startups and the result is a topical, funny and perfectly observed document of our insane times.
  • Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year and A Fortunate Age Doree Shafrir is so spot-on in her observations about the tech world that it's hard not to think this novel must be telling the juicy truth-and in a way it is. Sharp, compelling, and expertly written.
  • Karl Taro Greenfeld, author of Triburbia and The Subprimes A funny, delicious and charming novel about the alternate reality of startups #divine.
  • Jade Chang, author of The Wangs vs. The World What a tremendous book. Fun, breezy and charming. I think I finally understand the Internet and I'm both gladdened and depressed.
  • Delia Ephron, author of Siracusa Ruthlessly clever.
  • Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story Exacting, though not without empathy—Shafrir renders even the most infuriating of her characters with unexpected humanity-the novel is a page-turning pleasure that packs a punch. To call it expertly observed is an understatement.
  • Kirkus (Starred Review) Funny and unflinching, Shafrir's cast is chock full of strong women taking charge of a world the boys still think is their own... [a] sharp debut novel
  • Jenny Comita, W Magazine I tore through Startup in two days. It could've been one, but I had to eat, sleep, and feed my cats-all normal activities that became frustrating distractions while reading this book. Well-observed and told with a crackling wit, this debut is one of the best I've read so far this year.
  • Amy Brady, Lit Hub Shafrir's compulsively readable debut novel is hilarious, smart, and timely; it feels like a necessary read right now, so perfectly does it deal with issues like the insatiable media, the weird place where wellness and technology meet, and why white men suck so badly-especially when they have just a little bit of power.
  • Kristin Iverson, Nylon [A] timely page-turner.
  • Cosmopolitan A pitch-perfect depiction of the industry's culture and sexual politics.
  • Adam Rathe, Town & Country In her debut, BuzzFeed culture writer Shafrir skewers a world she knows well—startup culture and the outlets assigned to cover it.
  • Publishers Weekly Buzzfeed writer Shafrir's debut is full of humor and layered in truth as she exposes the underbelly of start-up culture.
  • Library Journal Part of the joy of reading Startup is deciphering which parts are based in fact and which are fiction, but even if you don't care about...
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