Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review:Origins of Love by Kishwar Desai

Title: Origins of Love 
Author: Kishwar Desai
Simon & Schuster
Pages: 470
Price: Rs 350
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction / Medical
Rating: 9/10

I loved Kishwar Desai’s first book Witness the Night. So, when I came to know about the release of her second book ‘Origins of Love’, I quickly checked it out and found the premise quite interesting. Both the novels are woven around women centric issues – first one on female infanticide and the girl child, while the second one is on IVF and surrogacy. The second book starts where the first one ends though there are no real linkages, and both can be read independently and in no particular order. In ‘Origins of Love’, the protagonist from her first book, Simran Singh, returns with the flourishing, murky world of IVF, surrogacy and stem cell research.

Dr. Anita and Dr. Subhash Pandey, with partner Dr. Ashok Ganguly, run a posh and successful IVF centre in Delhi offering IVF and surrogacy facilities to interested couples, which include gay and international clients. In one such attempt, a surrogate delivers an HIV positive baby, Amelia, and spells potential doom for the hospital.  Soon the commissioning parents of baby Amelia also die in a road accident during their trip to Rajasthan, causing double trouble for the hospital with no one to claim the child.

With the hospital’s reputation at stake, Dr. Anita involves her cousin, Simran Singh, the 40-something social worker, to unravel the mystery of how the child got the infection and also to find out her surviving family member, if any.

The IVF and surrogacy business is flourishing in India, resulting into the mushrooming of several such centres across the country. Couples who do not want to carry the child themselves or who are not able to do so or the gay couples., etc; are flocking the centres in large numbers that includes a huge demand from international clients who opt for India owing to availability of surrogates at a very low cost, and absence of any strict laws safeguarding the interests and health of the surrogates.

‘Origins of Love’ has a myriad of characters, parallel stories which converge later and sub plots which propel the story at a fast pace, keeping the reader hooked. Kate, who wants to have a baby through surrogacy; her husband, Ben, who wants to explore adoption and who nurses guilt from his colonial past; the middleman Sharma, who arranges for surrogates and lures poor women into the vicious circle of surrogacy; sub-inspector Diwan Nath Mehta in Customs and Excuse Department, who gets embroiled in the business of supplying confiscated embryos to a hospital through his boss Nazir Ali; Edward Walters, the health conscious sperm donor; surrogates in the form of underage girls, women without children, women separated from their children, women who need money for family, et al.; doctors like Ashok Ganguly and Wadhwani, who want to stay ahead in the stem cell research because the future is there, even if illegal at the moment; politician couple, Renu Madam and Vineet bhai, who want a heir for their party – with such an interesting gamut of characters, the story moves forward at a fast pace and makes the book pretty unputdownable.

I admit there are some loopholes in the story, a few very naïve treatments and a relatively lame ending when compared to the high the book creates throughout its 400 odd pages; but overall, the book is interesting and accomplishes the task of putting the spotlight on the pitfalls of this lucrative business!

I am definitely picking up Kishwar Desai’s third book, which she hints towards the end, is on its way!

Image credit: Amazon


  1. Already ordered this book, shud be arriving any day :) Comments reserved till then ;)

  2. Hope you like it :-) will look forward to your thoughts on this book!

  3. Haven't read this author as yet... sounds interesting!

  4. Both books are absolute pageturners while addressing social issues related to women. Good thrillers. Waiting for the third one, which she is already writing.