Fabulous Fiction Firsts #648


Balli Kaur Jaswal was named Best Young Australian Novelist by Sydney Morning Herald for her hardcover debut, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows. The book is set in the Sikh community of Greater London.

A great disappointment to her Punjabi immigrant family, a "westernized" Nikki Grewa tends bar at the local pub after dropping out of law school. She is bewildered that her sister Mindi, a nurse, is willing to try arranged marriage. While at the community center to post Mindi's dating profile, she impulsively answers an ad for a creative writing teacher.

Unable to engage her students -- proper Sikh widows who show up expecting to learn English and not short-story writing, until one of them finds among Nikki's teaching materials an erotica (Nikki's genre of choice) in English and hijacks her lesson plans, unleashing a wealth of fantasies and creativity.

As more women are drawn to the class all across London, they draw the attention of the Brotherhood, the self-appointed morality police. But it is Nikki's curiosity about the strange death of a young woman named Maya that would land her in grave danger.

"With a keen ear for dialogue and humor, Jaswal deftly entwines these women’s lives, creating a world in which women of multiple generations find common ground in the erotic fantasies that reveal both lived experiences and wistful dreams. By turns erotic, romantic, and mysterious, this tale of women defying patriarchal strictures enchants." (Kirkus Reviews)

Film rights have been optioned by Scott Free Films.

Suggested read-alikes: Together Tea by Marjan Kamali; A Cup of Friendship by Deborah Rodriguez; and Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee by Meera Syal. For anyone who doubts that there is life after 50, check out Calendar Girls.

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