Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows Summary and Reviews

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal X
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2017
    304 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-Meets-West story about community, friendship, and women's lives at all ages - a spicy and alluring mix of Together Tea and Calendar Girls.

Every woman has a secret life ...

Nikki, a modern young Punjabi, lives in cosmopolitan London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she's spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father's death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a 'creative writing' course at the community center in the beating heart of London's close-knit Punjabi community.

The proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn English, not short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected - and exciting - kind.

As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the communitys 'moral police.' But when the widows' gossip offer shocking insights into the death of a young wife - a modern woman like Nikki - and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Charming ... This is a sparkling read, bolstered by a few of the women's stories sprinkled in throughout." - Publishers Weekly

"By turns erotic, romantic, and mysterious, this novel of women defying patriarchial strictures enchants." - Kirkus

"Jaswal's novel is undoubtedly entertaining, yet ultimately it combines too many elements - culture clash, gender disparity, family dysfunction, bawdy comedy, romance threatened and thwarted, murder mystery, and the titular erotica - to avoid the occasional stumble. Missteps aside, Hollywood has already optioned Jaswal's enticing tale, so the book will be in demand." - Booklist

"A page-turner your commute will thank you for. Tackles serious themes with a light and funny touch." - Glamour (UK)

"Warm and hilariously funny." - Good Housekeeping (UK)

"Heady stuff ... a funny and moving tale of desire and its discontents." - The Economist

"I loved this novel - it's so big-hearted and earthy and funny. Best of all, it turns many preconceptions upside down, and opens up a world that so many of us have only glimpsed. A rattlingly good story." - Deborah Moggach, author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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Cloggie Downunder

Funny, moving and thought-provoking, this is a great read!
“It would be easier to be a criminal fairly prosecuted by the law than an Indian daughter who wronged her family. A crime would be punishable by a jail sentence of definite duration rather than this uncertain length of family guilt trips.”

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows is the third novel by Singapore-born author, Balli Kaur Jaswal. Twenty-two-tear-old Nikki Grewal has found a job teaching creative writing to Punjabi women for the Sikh Community Association at the Southall Temple. This is a welcome development in her life as, with half a law degree and a job in a pub that looks less that permanent, she can do with another source of income. And facilitating these ladies in finding their creative voices speaks to her sense of promoting women’s rights.

But the woman who employed her, Kulwinder Kaur has perhaps been less than honest: it turns out that most of these women can’t read or write at all, Punjabi or English. When her basic lessons apparently bore the widows, they begin telling stories they know, have heard or made up. And not just innocent little tales, but erotic stories, just about the very last thing Nikki would have expected from the mouths of these respectable ladies. One of their number is literate enough to be their scribe: could their tales be published?

As Nikki becomes more familiar with her students, she realises that despite their candid talk, there is something they are not revealing. It has to do with a young woman whose death, fourteen years earlier, is still a mystery. Or is it really? As Nikki gains her students’ trust, she learns of another death, labelled accidental, and then the recent purported suicide of Kulwinder’s daughter, Maya.

One of her widows says: “All those people who say, ‘Take no notice of those widows. Without their husbands, they’re irrelevant.’ We’d be invisible in India; I suppose it makes no difference that we’re in England.” But news of the classes spreads among the women in the community and far beyond, and more students join the group; Nikki worries that the real content of their writing will attract the wrong sort of attention.

Jaswal’s novel explores many topical subjects for Indians living in Britain: parental pressure regards career or marriage partner; the vital importance of status and reputation in this community; and the powerlessness of women in the community are but some of these. She describes a culture that, in twenty-first century London, still condones or even promotes arranged marriages, bounty hunters and honour killings; a culture that is slow to react to modern times and difficult to change while is it perpetuated by the men in power and by some of the older, uneducated and often illiterate women.

While these are serious topics, Jaswal also gives the reader plenty of humour, much of it quite black, charming characters, natural dialogue and a rather exciting climax. As for the sexy little stories, they can easily be skipped if mild erotica is not to the reader’s taste, without affecting the flow of the main story. Funny, moving and thought-provoking, this is a great read!

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Author Information

Balli Kaur Jaswal

Balli Kaur Jaswal was born in Singapore and grew up in Japan, Russia, and the Philippines. She studied Creative Writing at Hollins University in the US. She is the recipient of the Sydney Morning Herald's Best Young Australian Novelist award and was the National Writer-In-Residence at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University.

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