Erotic Stores for Punjabi Widows

Erotic Stories for Punjabi WidowsErotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought this book in a rush and with some trepidation; I found it to be a delightful read, written from the heart.

The blurb describes the plot as well as I could, so I won’t attempt a precis of the story. What I enjoyed most was the writing. Here are a couple of gems, first from Nikki, the protagonist, buying clothes from a street market in London:

The stall owner, a small man with a snowy beard and a large pink turban, rapidly listed [the shirt’s] benefits: ‘One hundred percent cotton! Very breathable! Colours don’t bleed in the wash – even the red dye doesn’t come off!’ His overenthusiasm gave Nikki the impression that these were likely polyester blouses that would smell like armpits after ten minutes of wear and make a crime scene of her other laundry if she so much as put them in the same basket.

and, later,

‘What do you expect them to think, Mum?’ Maya would ask, staring pointedly at Kulwinder’s clothes in a way that made her wonder how it was possible to love your daughter and dislike her so much at the same time.

I could go one. Balli Kaur Jasmal has a gift for pithy little turns of phrase. But there is more to the book than a bunch on one-liners: the book combines a coming-of-age yarn with acute observations on the Sikh community in London and the inter-generational conflicts that arise between immigrant parents and fully assimilated children told with humour and heart.

Why only four stars? The ending was by turns violent to a degree I didn’t find entirely credible, a little too trite for my taste, and contained one rather bewildering statement (note to author and editor: Gupta & Co come from nowhere and a private law firm would have nothing to do with the case in hand) which should never have got through a publishing house’s net.

Don’t let those quibbles deter you. This is a well-written and fun book, and had me engaged from cover to cover.

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