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Poignant novel set in Southall, London

10th December 2019

Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal, poignant novel set in Southall, London

This novel came to my attention when I saw it had been chosen as a Reese Witherspoon (Hello Sunshine) Book Club read in March 2018. Reese chooses to feature a woman writer every month and her book club is often a good way of finding new, top reads.

Poignant novel set in Southall, London

The novel is set in the Punjabi community of Southall, London where traditional values clash with Western culture, embodied in the attitudes held by sisters Mindi and Nikki. Mindi is looking for a husband in the traditional way, following in the footsteps of her parent’s marriage. Nikki has been seduced by western ideology and is already working behind the bar in a pub. Many eyebrows have been raised by her life choices.

Photo: Bustle.com

Kulwinder is at the temple and wants to offer the opportunity to some of the older women – the widows of the title – to learn how to write and read and offers the position of tutor to Nikki, who comes in all guns blazing with the idea that she will be running a creative writing course. Possibly not at first!

She soon charms her way into the hearts of most of her students who start to explore a side of their natures – their erotic sides – that have never found an outlet. But once the theme of the stories leaks into the wider community, all hell is let loose!

Kulwinder has suffered a tragedy in her own life and this feeds into the narrative and adds a real sense of poignancy to a storyline that otherwise can be quite earthy, amusing and informative.

The structure of the book can feel a little staccato at times but the writing is good and the central idea at the heart of the book makes for an interesting novel. It certainly enabled me to take a peak behind the scenes of a culture with which I am largely unfamiliar.

Tina For the TripFiction Team

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Enter the inaugural TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

750 - 3000 words with strong 'sense of place' theme

Short story, travelogue, or memoir

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Entries close 15th November 2020