Book Review: Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal


I ended 2020 by reading this novel.  I thought it would be a quick and light read to relax with between Christmas and New Year.  While I was correct in that it is quick and light – it was so much more.  I was looking forward to the lively “East-meets-West” stereotypes to push this story forward, but the characters’ development grows exponentially with their heart in this one.  You really care about these women, what they’ve gone through, and how it has made them what they are today.

One of the most surprising elements in this story is the introduction of a murder mystery.  You’re introduced to a mother who has lost her daughter, and throughout the story you slowly get the whole picture of what happened and who is at fault. It was an important detail to this book which gave the story some stunning twists and turns.

I adore that this story goes beyond the simple trope of ‘Why doesn’t the main character want an arranged marriage?’ to show those of us outside the Punjabi community why arranged marriages have worked for generations. I enjoyed every minute reading this book because not only does it show how large our hearts can be when we listen to each other, but how ultimately similar we all are.

Expertly blending humor, suspense, friendship, and erotic stories, Balli Kaur Jaswal creates a story worth reading.

Purchase your copy here.

Back Cover Copy of Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows:

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.

About Balli Kaur Jaswal:

Balli Kaur Jaswal is the author of four novels, including Singapore Literature Prize finalist “Sugarbread,” and the international bestseller “Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows,” which was a selection of Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine book club. Her debut novel “Inheritance” won the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelist award. Jaswal’s non-fiction has appeared in the New York Times, Cosmopolitan.com, Harper’s Bazaar India and Salon.com, among other publications. Her latest novel “The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters” was released to critical acclaim in 2019, and is now available in paperback.

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