Aziz Ansari: Modern Romance (Penguin) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, October 22nd, 2020  

Aziz Ansari

Modern Romance

Published by Penguin

Jul 14, 2015 Web Exclusive
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Aziz Ansari, actor and comedian, decided to take on an entirely different animal with Modern Romance, his debut book. Upon first glance, one would have guessed that it was going to feature short stories about his troubled love life, stories both touching and revolting, and of course humorous. However, Modern Romance instead finds Ansari teaming with NYU sociologist Eric Klineberg for a sociological overview/research project on how technology is changing the way we not only seek out love, but also communicate with potential/current partners. And of course, it is humorous.

In one of Ansari's stand-up bits, he talks about a woman he met and explains how he drove himself crazy when a text message he sent to her went unanswered. He explains how past generations didn't have to fret over the meaning of the un-answered text message or the proper waiting time to respond between each text message. Should you answer right away? Would you seem too eager? Should you wait a few minutes, a few days?

Being a young 20-something, living in a large city trying to navigate the dating world and all its new rules, Modern Romance is entirely too relatable. Right when I would begin to feel disheartened by overwhelming statistics that made it seem that love in the modern age is hopeless, Ansari would deliver much needed comic relief or a heartwarming story of two lost souls finding each other. More often than not, the book made it clear that, in the search for love and all the confusion that comes along with it, we are not alone.

Modern Romance doesn't only focus on the competition of the dating world. It also explains that because of the Internet we are not only able to easily find everything we want, but we can find the best of what we want. Ansari explains how this attitude affects the way we find love. We all want the best-the best life, the best car, the best phone. Why wouldn't we want the best partner in love as well? Ansari questions whether this attitude of needing the best is keeping us from actually finding our potential mates because it's so simple to think that there is someone better out there when you have a phone in your pocket filled with potential mates.

Ansari doesn't stop with the young American population. He and Klineberg conducted research groups with older generations across the country and took their research to places like Tokyo, where they find an asexual generation. Ansari even traveled to Buenos Aires where he found a culture that is so romantically aggressive it frequently crosses the line into harassment. Ansari goes so far to see how smartphones have affected dating culture in restrictive societies like Qatar.

For once there is a book that hits on a topic that doesn't seem like old news, a book that delivers facts and figures and heavy anthropological thought but doesn't feel like a chore to read. Modern Romance isn't saying that technology is bad. It's saying that this is the new reality and we have to embrace it, but along with that embrace we have to be critical in our approach. As technology develops, the questions that Ansari raises will only become more relevant and hard pressed. ( (

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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