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Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

Reader warning. Upon opening this book, expect:

  1. inquisitive looks from fellow commuters

  2. an education in vegetable euphemisms (cue aubergine emoji)

  3. some extremely raunchy widows

Balli Kaur Jaswal’s latest page turner certainly does what is says on the tin... and a whole lot more. Giving the likes of Jilly Cooper a run for their money, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows is as heartwarming as it is filthy, full to the brim with charming characters and steamy segues.

Set in Southall, West London, the novel centres around a literacy class for widows held in the local temple. Led begrudgingly by Nikki, whose need for a job outweighs her resentment for the community she spent her teens trying to avoid, ABCs quickly turn into something a little more x-rated when her students find their voice. And why shouldn’t the widows have a bit of fun? With their status in the community long buried with their husbands, the women begin to reclaim their confidence one erotic story at a time.

While the widows will keep you entertained throughout the novel (and long into the night) Jaswal raises some interesting questions around womanhood and sexuality in close-knit conservative communities. She addresses the bigger injustices the women face; from gender bias to extreme violence; and the complex relationship between oppression and cultural expectations. What starts as pensioner porn, ultimately empowers the widows to challenge these norms and make a difference in their community.

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