Shilpi Somaya GowdaShilpi Somaya Gowda, novelist (b at Toronto, Ont 9 Dec 1970). Shilpi Somaya Gowda is the author of one novel, Secret Daughter. She grew up in TORONTO, raised by parents who had emigrated from Mumbai, India, and now lives in San Francisco, California with her husband and children. Gowda was educated at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received an MBA from Stanford University. After graduating from Stanford she worked in business strategy, including a stint as a vice-president of business development for an Internet company. Gowda continues to operate a consulting practice.
Shilpi Somaya Gowda found inspiration for Secret Daughter in a summer spent working at an Indian orphanage in 1991 while she was in college. Published in early 2010, the novel uses two ideas as its starting points: infertility in North America and female infanticide in India. The Thakkars are an American mixed-race couple who adopt a girl in India, after her birth mother abandons her at an orphanage to save her from the fate of her first daughter. While the American mother, Somer, struggles with the insecurities that adoption brings to relationships, the Indian mother, Kavita, tries to find happiness as her family leaves their village for the slums of Mumbai. The story alternately follows these families over a period of 20 years, culminating in the return of the now-grown daughter to India on a voyage of discovery. Shilpi Somaya Gowda brings an emotional depth to the lives of the two older women, both bound by the heartaches of motherhood.
Although Secret Daughter was published concurrently in the US and Canada, HarperCollins Canada published the novel as a trade paperback. Its themes of motherhood, cultural identity, the meaning of family, and a young woman's coming of age resonated in Canada to make the novel a bestseller. It sold 150 000 copies, requiring 14 printings, in 6 months, and received recognition as a "Heather's Pick" at Indigo bookstores and distribution through mass market retailer Costco.