By Ninder Kaur
The House of Hidden Mothers is Meera Syal’s long-awaited third novel.
Meera Syal CBE is an author, actress, comedian and an impressive three decades into her career.
Syal is already one of the most acclaimed actors and writers of stage and screen, and has already achieved great success with scripts, TV shows and novels. Syal’s latest and much anticipated release arrives nearly 16 years after her last book, Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee.
The new novel tells the story of two women. Shyama, aged forty-four and from East London, has fallen for a youthful Englishman. They want a child together. Young Mala from a rural village in India is married to a traditional husband and dreams of escape.When Shyama and Mala meet, they help each other realise their dreams.
The novel discusses topical issues facing the Asian community. It explores India as the surrogacy capital of the world and asks vital questions about identity, family, and the right to conceive.
With many ‘late-mothers’ returning to India in search of surrogates, there are now roughly 3,000 clinics that provide in vitro fertilisation in India. Every year, the country sees anywhere from 100 to 300 surrogate pregnancies, making it the surrogacy capital of the world.
Taking on such a sensitive topic is not easy, but Syal’s powerful novel is underpinned by female friendship, motherhood and love. This beautifully descriptive novel has allowed Syal to connect to her British Asian audience through her compelling storytelling. Readers will immediately connect with Shyama’s perception of Modern India, as Syal takes the reader on an emotional journey.
Author Meera Syal comments: “Surrogacy is a sensitive topic but one I was keen to tackle because I was fascinated by it. My favourite book – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, focuses on outsourcing fertility and I’d also once seen a documentary on the popularity of surrogacy in India, which was incredibly moving. Many people don’t realise that the world’s centre for surrogacy is in fact India, because it’s so cheap and there are no restrictions. For me, the topic is a perfect area to delve into. It’s about women, it’s about the politics of women and fertility, it’s about India and Britain, and I was very inspired to write it.”
Readers will not be disappointed with this engaging and moving novel, which is certainly one of 2015’s must-reads.