“This is a Business Transaction, Fundamentally”: Surrogate Motherhood in Meera Syal’s The House of Hidden Mothers
Keywords:The House of Hidden Mothers, Meera Syal, surrogacy, reproductive outsourcing, Asian-British literature
Meera Syal’s latest novel, The House of Hidden Mothers (2015), depicts the current practice of international surrogacy and raises questions about this form of reproduction which commodifies babies and constructs poor women’s bodies in India and elsewhere as sites of reproductive exploitation. Nonetheless, Syal’s novel challenges an initial reading of Indian surrogate mothers as mere passive victims of western capitalist demands and depicts a surrogate mother, Mala, who constantly subverts her position as a disempowered, ‘third world’ woman. I shall argue that the novel bridges the discursive western-constructed gap between ‘poor and disempowered’ Indian women and ‘rich and empowered’ British ones explicitly through its ending, but also implicitly by engaging with gender concerns related to the perception, (re)presentation and exploitation of women’s bodies in the United Kingdom and India alike.