New Delhi: Kishwar Desai, author and wife of Indian-born British economist Meghnad Desai, has signed a three-book joint publishing deal with Simon & Schuster UK.
Clare Hey, Senior Commissioning Editor at Simon & Schuster UK, bought the UK and Commonwealth and Indian rights in two new novels from Desai, whose debut, Witness the Night, won the Costa First Novel Award 2010.
The deal also includes UK and Commonwealth rights for Witness the Night, which S&S UK will be reissuing in June 2012. S&S UK will also be publishing the first of the two new novels, Origins of Love, in hardback in June 2012 along with the new Indian S&S office in Delhi, as well as with the Australian office in Sydney.
"I am delighted to be publishing Kishwar and am excited about the global opportunities this new deal offers. Kishwar’s first novel was a real sensation, both here in the UK and in India, and I am delighted to be taking her career to the next level with S&S and our sister offices overseas," Clare Hey said
"It was totally out of the blue and a rather "lucky" coincidence which led me to S&S and for us to enter into the three-book deal. I had met the lovely team in London and was bowled over by their enthusiasm and professionalism. The fact that S&S has just entered India was also very encouraging," Desai said.
Desai said her new book is, once again, a crime novel but much more ambitious than the first. It deals with assisted reproduction - especially surrogacy and IVF. She said she was thrilled at how topical the issue is both in India and abroad. "Recently even Aamir Khan has had a baby using a surrogate," she said.
Surrogacy is becoming a big international business and so is the whole fertility industry, creating a difficult ethical and moral terrain. The author wanted to explore the various issues involved in this "business" and what it is doing to the whole idea of making babies.
"The common factor in the three books is there is one single female protagonist named Simran Singh - a social worker who gets involved in sorting out the problems of the world. And in each one she examines contemporary issues, through the lens of a crime which has taken place - and for which she has been specially called in."
Desai started as a print journalist working for the Indian Express newspaper, and other magazines before switching to television where she worked for over 25 years. She wrote a prize-winning play Manto! Her first book was a biography of two film stars 'Darlingji: The True Love Story of Nargis and Sunil Dutt'.
Her second book, a novel, Witness the Night (Harper Collins, India and Beautiful Books, UK, 2010) won the Costa First Novel Award and was Long listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize, Shortlisted for the Author's Club (UK) award, Long listed for the DSC South Asian Literary Prize among others. The novel featured a feisty social worker, Simran Singh, and dealt with the issue of female foeticide and infanticide in India.
Origins of Love: Synopsis
As India turns into the mecca of fertility centres for would-be parents from all over the world, social worker Simran Singh is asked to investigate the case of a newly born child, Amelia, whose British parents have died in a tragic but mysterious accident in Rajasthan. Amelia's "birth" mother is a surrogate who has also disappeared and Simran decides to find out why no one seems to want the orphan.
She discovers the world of surrogacy, a multi-million dollar international business, with its own rules and regulations, often dangerously shrouded in secrecy, with doctors, surrogates and lawyers all concerned only with giving the commissioning parents what they want, a child. It is a complicated labyrinth of fertility rites and rituals, sperm and egg donors. Simran's search for baby Amelia's family takes her to London where she unravels the very uncomfortable truth.
As she finds out the dark reality about the growing number of surrogates in India, she also learns why they may never forget the experience of carrying a child they cannot keep, and why some of the children may never even be born.