Tuesday 16 March 2021

Book ~ "Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows" (2017) Balli Kaur Jaswal

From Goodreads ~ Every woman has a secret life ...

Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West 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.

Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of 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 community’s "moral police." But when the widows’ gossip offers 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. 

Nikki is in her twenties and living on her own in London.  Her parents are from India and are traditional in many ways as is her sister, Mindi.  While Mindi is trying to find a prospective husband and an arranged marriage, Nikki is trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life.  She had been going to law school and, much to her father's dismay, she quit and is now working in a pub.  When her father suddenly passes away, Nikki feels guilty because they had been fighting just before he died.

When Nikki sees an ad looking for someone to teach a creative writing course at a Punjabi community centre, this gives her purpose and she applies and gets the job.  A handful of Sikh widows show up to take the class, thinking they would be learning basic English literacy so Nikki begrudgingly adapts.  One day Nikki had picked up a book of erotica as a joke for her sister and the widows see it.  Nikki then discovers that the widows aren't as meek and mild as one would think.  The class becomes a creative writing class with the widows sharing their fantasies.

In the meantime, Kulwinder, Nikki's boss, is grieving because her daughter had passed away, causing gossip.  She has given Nikki a hard time in the past so Nikki has to hide what she is really teaching.  Plus Nikki has recently met Jason who she really likes but he is hiding a secret.

I liked this book.  I liked the writing style ... it was funny at times and moved at a quick pace.  It's written in third person perspective in Nikki and Kulwinder's voices.  I found it interesting and learned a lot about the Punjabi culture.  My physiotherapist had recommended this book to me and gave me the head's up that there is swearing and the widows' stories are fairly explicit.

1 comment:

Jackie McGuinness said...

This sounds like a great read!