Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal (304 pages)
This is a book of a different colour, a good read, and quirky in the extreme. It starts off rather slowly, describing the background of Nikki, a law school dropout and feminist/activist working in a downtown London pub much to her family’s chagrin, and her sister Mindi, also a 20-something but a more dutiful daughter of immigrant Indian parents. While Nikki is charting her course as a modern millennial, Mindi has opted to pursue a traditional arranged marriage. When Nikki goes to post Mindi’s ad for a husband on the temple’s marriage board, she spots an ad to teach creative writing to the elder women of the Sikh community–or so she thinks.
Turns out the women are mostly illiterate and adamantly opposed to doing Sesame Street ABCs. They want to tell stories—not nice little prim and proper tea party tales. No, these women want to reel off their sexual fantasies and, heaven forbid, have them transcribed and collated. As more and more members join the group and the manuscript grows thicker by the week, Nikki winds up in a new relationship with a secretive man, chasing down clues to an unsolved murder, and a likely dead duck at the hands of the local morality squad if the truth about her writing class ever leaks out. Now that’s one hell of a giant jar of pickles she’s gotten herself into.
This book was unanimously “liked” at our BooknBrunch gathering, sparking some insightful conversation. As surprising as it was to discover that these particular women had such vivid sexual desires, who would have thunk they would be cheeky enough to share them out loud within a group? Talk about women’s liberation! Frankly, I thought that was a bit of a stretch but it is wonderful to contemplate the possibility. Maybe the times really are a-changing and I will never see a sari-wearing senior the same way again.
I know from personal experience that writing erotica is no easy feat, so kudos to the author for a simply superlative job. She also strung us along masterfully on the murder mystery subplot, building the suspense and hiding the truth until the very end. All in all, a thoroughly entertaining read and a quintessential book club selection, both for the multi-faceted content and for its potential to draw people out of their shells for a lively discussion. After all, one can never have too many fantasies stashed away for a rainy day. Definitely worthy of five forks.
You can purchase Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows today by heading over to our Brookstore. We recently met to discuss the novel at our August BooknBrunch event–want to be a part of our next great discussion? See what we have coming up here!
Laura Vincent recently settled into retirement, doing a bit of writing, a lot of service and smelling the roses along the way. A plan is afoot to explore Europe on a Eurail Pass – one last great hurrah so to speak.
Favourite book: The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Favourite brunch spot: Rocco Restaurant & Bar