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The vapid world of Berlin’s start-ups

A fictional satire lacks urgency

Graffiti in Berlin Credit: Creative Commons

Graffiti in Berlin Credit: Creative Commons

Matthew Sperling’s debut novel Astroturf, an exploration of modern masculinity, was longlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize in 2019; its steroid-addled protagonist, Ned, has moved from London to Berlin for the follow-up, Viral. Ned and Alice, an ex-actress, have formed a social media marketing agency called The Thing Factory, housed in the Kreuzberg district.

Having established that “the future is in platforms,” Ned and his team set about innovative methods of “harnessing… the products, the encounters, the kinds…

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