Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

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“You waste everything because you’ve always had everything.”

Now that is an attention grabbing title! Undoubtedly when I came across this novel while browsing my local bookstore I couldn’t help but reach for it to see what it was about. This was before the hype surrounding it really hit, and quite honestly when a book is so hyped up and I begin to see it absolutely everywhere, my interest wanes quite a bit. I ended up really enjoying this book and it is one I would easily recommend. So, what is it all about?

Nikki is the daughter of Indian immigrants and has spent most of her life distancing herself from the culture and traditions of the Sikh community, instead opting for a more Western life. She dropped out of law school and got a job bartending, intent on finding her way in the world and discovering what she truly wants to do. After the unexpected death of her father, Nikki takes a job teaching, what she believes is a creative writing course, at a community centre in the close-knit Punjabi community in London. Because of a misunderstanding, the Sikh widows who show up believe that it is a class for English literacy not creative writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories and shares it with the class, it leads to the women creating stories of their own, and Nikki guides them in sharing their stories and expressing their creativity. The class becomes immensely popular even with attempts to keep it a secret, as there are many who would be against such a thing. Particularly the Brotherhood, a group of young men who deem themselves to be the community’s “moral police.” As the class grows and the gossip flows, Nikki slowly discovers the answers to a death that shocked the community, and finds herself amidst a possible scandal.

There are many layers to this novel that make it an intriguing and engrossing read. It shines a light on this close-knit community and Nikki’s struggle with the expectations of her family and how they conflict with her struggle to find her own way. I like how it also shows Nikki’s misconceptions and the growth she experiences as a character throughout the novel. There is a little bit of a mystery aspect that adds a certain amount of intrigue, and yes there are some erotic stories as well. This is an enjoyable and page-turning read that is a great addition to a summer reading list. 🙂

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