- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 6, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062645110
- ISBN-13: 978-0062645111
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 233 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows: A Novel Paperback – March 6, 2018
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“Jaswal tackles serious themes (arranged vs forced marriage, traditional vs modern culture) with a light and funny touvh. A page-turner your commute will thank you for.” (Glamour Magazine)
“By turns erotic, romantic, and mysterious, this novel of women defying patriarchial strictures enchants.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“A page-turner your commute will thank you for. Tackles serious themes with a light and funny touch.” (Glamour (UK))
“Warm and hilariously funny.” (Good Housekeeping (UK))
“Heady stuff ... a funny and moving tale of desire and its discontents.” (The Economist)
“Charming ... This is a sparkling read.” (Publishers Weekly)
“I loved this novel—it’s so big-hearted and earthy and funny. Best of all, it turns many preconceptions upside down, and opens up a world that so many of us have only glimpsed. A rattlingly good story.” (Deborah Moggach, author of THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL)
From the Back Cover
Every woman has a secret life . . .
Nikki, a modern daughter of Indian immigrants, has 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 impulsively takes a job teaching a “creative writing” course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.
The proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn English, not short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of erotica and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories that they’ve held in for far too long. 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 the class grows, a group called the Brothers, who have appointed themselves Southall’s “moral police,” threaten to reveal the class’s scandalous stories and the mysterious secrets lurking beneath this seemingly sedate, tight-knit community.
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See, once these Punjabi women became widows, they were essentially ignored. Society dictates that they are no longer able to find love or romance, so they spend a lot of time with each other. Most people think they are just having "old lady" conversations with each other, but these women still have needs and desires. Nikki's class gives them the power to share these stories in a more formal setting and document them. In the meantime, Nikki is struggling with being independent and dating in a modern world when her traditional family and many other Punjabi are accustomed to arranged marriages, reserved women, and close-knit families.
There's so much more going on in this book, including a mysterious death that Nikki is intent on learning more about. Don't write this novel off as being "romance" or "trashy;" it's truly about the immigrant experience and will give you insight into a culture that doesn't seem to get a ton of attention in most cases
Ms. Jaswal has attempted a number of story lines. In no particular order:
A young woman seeking to balance between her culture, her traditional family and her modern ideas.
Eastern, specifically Punjabi culture meets Western, specifically British.
The suppression of women, specifically older, women in the Punjabi culture.
These same women finding an outlet or at least an expression for their sexuality
One or more mysterious deaths.
And these are only the major story lines. Something of a crowded field for a 298 page novel.
Initially I had expected a fairly balances discussion of traditional values versus modern values, but every chapter or so a new story line opened. This creates a lot to think about but not so much in the way of answers.
The erotic stories are scattered about and are the result of the Punjabi Widows hijacking an English Language course that was to be taught by Nikki, a modern Punjabi woman, law school dropout seeking her purpose while maintain her links to her mother and dealing with the recent death of her father, who may have died angry with Nikki and coming to terms with the traditions of her culture and looking for Mr. Right. Like I said a lot of story lines. O I forgot there are at least one suspicious death; actually two.
To her credit, Ms Jaswal does a good job describing Punjabi culture, its overly male orientation and the problems of living in or nearly in this community. I like a book that take the reader into a world previously unknown but from reality. Erotic Stories succeeds at this. Despite the overall shallow handling of the deeper themes in her novel, when the time comes to bring the threads together and bring about the climax (pun not exactly intended) she builds the tension and keeps the reader engaged and eager for the finish.
The denouement arrives in the form of several chapters, each designed to tie up all loose ends. With this many story lines, there are going to be loose ends. In this, a better editor would have guided the author to a shorter simpler wind up.
I think I was into this book because I witnessed myself from old romanian women dirty jokes and stories and I always knew somehow this was something very womanly. Only getting older did I understood that this was the way a patriarchal society goes, where our stories are private and men stories are public and published.
I think this book was a nice read and I do recommend it since I do not find very often opportunities to be immersed into an immigrant Punjabi women’s club. It is funny and I would have loved more of this to permeate the book, even though i do understand the logic of the dark elements in the story. The arranged or forced marriages, the honor, the crimes, they are all part of a society ruled by men and it was wise for the author to give a more realistic image of these deep patriarchal communities.
I will look for more stories by this author.