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Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

Cover: 'Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows'

Staff Review: "Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows" by Balli Kaur Jaswal

★★★★

Nikki is a modern twentysomething living and working in central London. The daughter of Indian immigrants, Nikki has spent much of her adult life embracing a life of independence and feminism while distancing herself from the traditional Sikh lifestyle that the rest of her family prefers.

While still figuring out a career path for herself, Nikki finds a part-time job teaching creative writing at a local community center that caters to the local Sikh community. The class is populated with mostly older Punjabi widows, many of whom have become outcasts in their small enclave. When the widows discover a book of erotica that Nikki purchased as a gag gift for her sister, they are intrigued and begin to create tales of erotic fiction. The widows find this practice incredibly liberating, given the oppression they have faced as females most of their lives.

Nikki and the class must hide their writings from the community center’s outreach organizer – a domineering woman who recently lost her daughter to a suspicious suicide - and from The Brothers, a group of young men who police the Punjabi community in an effort to suppress its female members and assert their male dominance.

I really admired the author’s writing style and felt the writing was incredibly original, funny and insightful. I thought Nikki’s internal conflict of balancing her traditional upbringing with her desire to be a modern, independent woman was particularly engaging, as well as the personal freedom the widows felt from expressing themselves through these taboo stories.  

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

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