Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Nikki dropped out of law school and fell into bartending but she knows something is missing from her life. She needs to do something to make a difference. So she decides to give back to the Sikh community she has distanced herself from since her youth and teach a creative writing course to women. Her first day in the classroom she is surprised that most of the widows in attendance can’t speak much if any English and can’t write in any language and are expecting Nikki to teach them. Completely thrown by the change in the course she leaves the classroom to talk to the administrator and when she returns she hears the women giggling. The one widow who can read English is reading and translating an erotic story from a book Nikki purchased as a joke for her sister and left with the pile of books on her desk. Nikki is horrified yet the widows are thrilled. They would love to tell stories like this — they can be creative and share their stories and work on their writing all at the same time! But they all know that the traditional Sikh community may frown upon a class of this nature, but how do you keep something that fun quiet?

This book flew under my radar until I was listening to a webinar with the publisher who couldn’t say enough wonderful things about it and members of the audience chimed in about it as well. I loved the glimpse into the culture of these women living in Great Britain yet holding onto their traditions. Women’s rights becomes a focus of the book as does the marginalization of widows; and these widows will not be marginalized any longer! There are very serious themes here and a mystery that ties the story together but overall the tone is light and there is quite a bit of humor. Be forewarned there really are erotic short stories interspersed throughout the text. (And they are quite steamy!)

I found myself with a free rainy evening and read half the book in a single sitting. If you want to learn about a culture, watch women take control of their lives, and just enjoy a good read you’ll want to add this one to your list.