October 2019 - Secret Daughter

Secret Daughter

by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Book Group 1- October 2019

Our book group read the New York Times bestseller Secret Daughter (2010) by Canadian-Indian author Shilpi Somaya Gowda for November. A highly acclaimed novel, Secret Daughter, has been translated into more than thirty languages and has sold more than a million copies. Set in 1985 and over the next 20 plus years, the book revolves around an impoverished Indian family whose mother bravely gave up her second daughter for adoption to avoid the fate of the first (a victim of infanticide), and the American-Indian family struggling with infertility, who adopted the child, with chapters moving across continents and over time.


Whilst there were many interesting themes introduced in the novel, including but not limited to: infertility, adoption, gender screening and abortion vs. infanticide, gender roles in India vs. USA, migration, repatriation, power of a name, family, etc.; we were of opinion that the themes were not developed well in the novel. We also struggled to understand how it ‘received much critical praise for its nuanced and realistic portrayal of Indian culture’ - maybe we live this side of the world? Nonetheless, the themes gave us much to talk about. The sharing of personal experiences and convictions of the themes close to our heart made our Book Group discussion special. We enjoyed our discussion much, much more than the book.



Leong Ket Ti