Archive | 10:54 AM

Book Club Reflection: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

17 May

My book club met over Zoom to read Balli Kaur Jaswal’s Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows. I’ll be honest and say my book club’s discussion on this book got a little off track really fast and I didn’t get a lot of notes about our meeting. There were a lot of comments I didn’t feel were based on fact and I didn’t feel comfortable recording to report here. There was a lot of discussion about cultural traditions in India surrounding widowhood and marriage but none of us have first-hand experience with this cultural tradition. One reader talked about a documentary she’d watched that she believed was called “The Invisible Widows” and thought it was from the National Geographic. I can’t find this so if anyone has a link, please share it in the comments below; I’d be interested to see what this reader was talking about.

Our moderator told us that this is Jaswal’s third book and that her fourth is out now. The newest is also about British-born Punjabi characters. When picking this book, our moderator was nervous for a moment that it would be considered too racy. She explained her logic by saying that often in our culture, we come across extreme violence and are numb to it. When we come across explicit sexual content, we’re affected. Of these two things, we hope to come across one in our lifetime and not the other, yet the one we hope to find is what affects us. As a society, we may want to reconsider that.

I do not have a sister but the readers who did felt that the relationship between Nikki and Mindy seemed right. It was fitting that they were so hard on each other and that they could be so different having come from the same family. The only other character we discussed was Kulwinder, who is the most dynamic character in the story aside from Nikki. She became more likeable as the book went on. You realized what was happening to her and what had happened to her family and started to pity her. You also see that she’s fighting for women and their independence as much as Nikki wants to. The two are actually very natural allies.

I’m not sure if I’ll be continuing with this book club. Our organizer is moving on to another job and we’re taking off June. I plan to attend in July but with Baby coming in early August, I might take a break and possibly pick up with the book club at new local library. It was going to get tricky when we started meeting in person again and I have a feeling that by the time things with Baby have calmed down, they’ll be back to the bar for meetings. But we shall see.

Until next time, write on.

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