Erotic Stories of Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
Be warned, this novel might shock you, might leave you feeling the need for your own erotic encounters. For sure I did not at first quite believe what I was reading.
The plot centers around Nikki, born in London to Punjabi immigrants. Her parents are Sikhs. The lives of women are very much still defined by traditions imported from India. Nikki, about twenty, is trying to find a way to live in harmony with the very judgemental Sikh community (there is even group of young men who monitor unmarried women for improper dress and such). Nikki's father recently died, she is a law school drop out, currently working as a bartender. After talking to her more traditional sister and her mother about the direction of her life, she decides to try to earn extra money, some of which will go to her mother, by starting a class in creative writing for women at the London Punjabi center. The family conversations revolve around Nikki's lack of direction.
As Jaswal wonderfully shows us, marriages were still often arranged and had to be with another Sikh. Nikki scorns ads placed on a match making board at the center. Her venture into internet matchmaking websites was just hilarious, a marvelous satrical segment.
When her class begins the students are all Widows, it seems married or single women are not supposed to go out to classes. Nikki plans on teaching creative writing, through a workshop like approach. She is surprised to learn some of the women cannot write in English or Punjabi. Most of the students thought they were signing up to learn to write English. Nikki at first does not know how to begin. One of the students finds a collection of erotic stories and shares them with the class. Soon Nikki realizes the women can be drawn out by having those who can write, produce stories of erotic encounters. They end up producing very sensual most would say X-rated stories about sexual encounters. Most of the women have been with only their late husbands. We see the women begin to rise above their cultural restrictions. We learn one is not a widow but was abandoned by her husband.
Nikki does have her own romance. It runs most of the course of the novel and was very integral to the novel.
Jaswal is a very talented writer. The conversations are perfect, the characters real and she gives us a very good feel for the London Punjabi community. I liked Nikki and her family. The erotic stories are a lot of fun.
I really enjoyed Erotic Stories of Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal.
This is a very perceptive totally fun to read work.
BALLI KAUR JASWAL . From ballijaswal.com
is the author of Inheritance, which won the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelist Award in 2014 and was adapted into a film at the Singapore International Festival of the Arts in 2017.Her second novel Sugarbread was a finalist for the 2015 inaugural Epigram Books Fiction Prize and the 2018 Singapore Literature Prize.
Her third novel Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows (Harper Collins/William Morrow) was released internationally to critical acclaim in March 2017. Translation rights to this novel have been sold in France, Spain, Italy, Israel, Poland, Germany, Sweden, Greece, China, Brazil and Estonia. Film rights to Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows have been acquired by Ridley Scott’s production company, Scott Free Productions and Film Four in the UK. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows was also picked by Reese Witherspoon’s book club and The Girly Book Club in 2018.
Jaswal’s short fiction and non-fiction writing have appeared in the UK Sunday Express, Cosmopolitan Magazine, The New York Times, Harpers Bazaar, Conde Nast Traveller and Best Australian Short Stories, among other publications and periodicals. She has travelled widely to appear in international writers festivals to conduct workshops and lectures on creative writing, pursuing an artistic career, the power of storytelling, global citizenship and social justice advocacy through literature. A former writing fellow at the University of East Anglia, Jaswal has taught creative writing at Yale-NUS College and Nanyang Technological University where she is currently pursuing a PhD.
Jaswal’s new novel, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters, will be released in April 2019. The novel is a dark comedy following the travels of three British-Indian sisters on a pilgrimage in India to fulfil their late mother’s final wishes.
I really want to read her latest novel, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters.