Shilpi Somaya Gowda has written a stunning debut novel that explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity and culture, witnessed through the lives of two families, one Indian, one American, and the daughter who indelibly binds them.
On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl. But in a culture that favors sons, the only way for Kavita to save her newborn daughterís life is to give her away. It is a decision that will haunt her and her husband for the rest of their lives, even after the arrival of their cherished son.
Halfway around the globe, Somer, an American doctor, decides to adopt a child after making the wrenching discovery that she will never have one of her own. When she and her husband Krishnan see a photo of the baby with the gold-flecked eyes from a Mumbai orphanage, they are overwhelmed with emotion for her. Somer knows life will change with the adoption, but is convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles.
Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds their destinies, Secret Daughter poignantly explores issues of culture and belonging. Moving between two worlds and two families, one struggling to survive the fetid slums of Mumbai, the other grappling to forge a cohesive family despite diverging cultural identities, this powerful debut novel marks the arrival of a fresh talent poised for great success.
Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto to parents who migrated there from Mumbai. She holds an MBA from Stanford University, and a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1991, she spent a summer as a volunteer in an Indian orphanage. A native of Canada , she has lived in New York, North Carolina, and Texas . She currently makes her home in California with her husband and children.
“Dualities abound in this engrossing first novel … Gowda weaves her tale deftly … The sounds, scents and sights of India are vividly drawn, pulling the reader deep into a culture that most of us have only glimpsed, perhaps, in Slumdog Millionaire. Two worlds collide, then meld, in a story that intimately considers how we all are shaped, through fate or free will, nurture or nature, by the astounding power of family love.”