Amulya Malladi’s novel, A HOUSE FOR HAPPY MOTHERS takes us on an emotional journey of surrogacy, experiencing the heart-wrenching terrain encountered by mothers in first and third worlds. The culturally different roles women play in these societies are highlighted in what used to be warm, private family experiences, that some might argue now have become “rent-a-womb” business transactions.
Priya is the daughter of a Caucasian father and an Indian mother. She lives in Silicon Valley and has everything she could want, a wonderful husband, house, career, but she’s unable to have a baby. Asha lives in a small tin roof hut in an Indian Village, half-way around the world with her husband and two children. They struggle to eat and keep a roof over their heads, but Asha is desperate to afford an education for her gifted son.
Asha knows of the Happy Mothers House, essentially a “baby farm” for wealthy childless couples overseas. It’s not her first choice to make money, but after her family pressures her, she checks in. Priya’s friends and family are surprised she is willing to tap into India’s rising surrogacy industry, wondering if she’s exploiting Asha.
A HOUSE FOR HAPPY MOTHERS is a thought-provoking novel that will work well in book-clubs. The story alternates between Priya and Asha perspectives, from Silicon Valley back to the small Indian Village. Priya frequents late night internet surrogate message boards. Asha is part of a traditionally arranged marriage, and must obey her husband, also worrying if her husband will squander the money they make. “Womb-renting” is frowned upon in the Village, so many women hide, emerging nine-months later saying they “lost” the baby.
Amulya uses subtle nuances to bridge the two women’s stories over two continents and cultures without making any judgements and leaves readers are to decide for themselves.
It’s interesting to note that in October 2015, the Indian Government banned all surrogate services for foreigners and ordered all fertility clinics in India to stop hiring Indian women from bearing children for them. The government argues they are protecting poor Indian women from exploitation. But the women argue that they could never earn the money they make from being surrogates and want the government to “get out of their private lives.”
The Indian Government has also instructed Indian Embassies abroad, to stop granting “reproductive tourism” visas. (yes, that’s what they are called.)
Amulya Malladi is the author of six novels, including THE SOUND of Language and THE MANGO SEASON. Her books have been translated into several languages, including Dutch, German, Spanish, Danish, Romanian, Serbian, and Tamil. She’s adjusting to life in Los Angeles after recently moving from Copenhagen with her husband and two children.
Connect with Amulya
Thanks to Lake Union Publishing and @BookSparks, we have several copies of A HOUSE FOR HAPPY MOTHERS to give away. Just leave a comment telling us what you think about this controversial issue. As I wrote above, I bet this novel will be the perfect choice for many book-clubs. We’ll announce winners Saturday.