Nikki has spent most of her life rebelling against the traditional Sikh community she was born into. Her decisions to drop out of law school, live alone in West London, and tend bar at a local pub have proven to her parents that she is leagues away from the ideal Punjabi daughter they expected. When her father unexpectedly dies of a heart attack, Nikki is confronted with the reality of her future and decides that she needs to grow up and make some positive changes in her life.
Wanting to make a difference in her local Punjabi community, Nikki takes on an evening job at the community center teaching creative writing and quickly learns that her students, a handful of Sikh widows, are largely illiterate. When her students discover an erotic book in Nikki’s bag, the class quickly devolves into an erotic storytelling class that unleashes the creativity and imaginations of the widows. But old traditions cannot soon be forgotten and Nikki’s class is threatened when the scandalous stories are circulated throughout the community.
I loved this book! I’m not usually one for contemporaries, but this story was unique, vibrant, creative, and insightful. The writing was engaging and witty, although I did notice a few typos throughout. And the title… Well, you can’t get much more intriguing than that! But what I loved most about this book weren’t the stories themselves (although they were quite good), but the way Jaswal depicted the widows.
Jaswal used this story to turn our stereotypical ideas of who Punjabi widows are completely upside down. For the most part, widows across many cultures are largely desexualized, stemming from the patriarchal belief that a woman’s value comes from her husband. We all know this to be utterly ridiculous (or at least we should and if you think otherwise then maybe you shouldn’t be reading my blog) because no woman is defined by anyone other than herself, and especially not by a man. And yet misperceptions and stereotypes (especially in regards to sexuality and age) still run rampant.
The widows in Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows make it abundantly clear that while their husbands may be deceased, their sexual desires are still very much alive. Their imaginations can get pretty wild, including lesbian lovers, threesomes, and one-night-stands. And their creativity shines through in their story development and in the many unique names they come up with to describe male anatomy (LOTS of vegetables). But there’s so much more to this book than erotic stories – and you’ll just have to read it to find out!
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys diverse contemporary fiction with an erotic twist (hint: it may not be appropriate for younger readers).
Have you read this book? Leave your comments down below!