Not so long ago, Kishwar Desai’s debut, Witness the Night, won the Costa First Novel Award. The novel was about female foeticide and it drew much attention, especially in the West. The theme in this second novel by Desai is surrogate parenting, or the renting of one’s womb to carry the child of others.
The protagonist Simran Singh is a social worker of the cigarette-smoking, high-end variety who make spinsterhood fashionable. Simran is firmly against womb rentals. She comes across unsavoury examples in infertility clinics with alarming names like ‘Freedom’ and ‘Madonna and Child’. She meets Malti and Radhika and Preeti who are young surrogate mothers; Sonia, whose infertile husband forces her to have sex with his friend in order to conceive; and men with names like Pandey, Mehta, Sharma and Ganguly, all villains exploiting women towards the same end.