Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal and narrated by Meera Syal is a lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-meets-West story about community, friendship, and women’s lives at all ages. It is also the March Book Pick for Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine!
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.
“I spent the entire weekend reading Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows. It is a fantastically delightful novel. It is a little bit of everything from mystery to love story to titillating short stories. Definitely not erotica but also not for the faint of heart. This is one of those books that you get done with reading and you just want to clap to show it thanks.”
—Shane, Left Bank Books