Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, by Balli Kaur Jaswal.
One of my Saturday afternoon pleasures is to browse the new fiction section at my local public library. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows beckoned even as I was skeptical of yet another immigrant narrative, albeit of a young Sikh woman in London. But I was in for a hilarious surprise. Nikki, a Sikh English woman, is a law school dropout and rebel, who tends bar at a dive with sexist Russian coworkers a racist regular, a white Briton. But against her better judgment, when she visits the gurudwara (a Sikh temple) in Southall to post a matrimonial ad for her prim and obedient older sister that things take an interesting turn. While there, she sees an ad seeking an English teacher for Punjabi widows at the temple and despite having no teaching experience applies for and gets the job. Only to find out that the widows, who range from 45-65, have no interest in learning English but in telling explicit and detailed stories about their sexual desires and fantasies. The uproariously funny and poignant stories reveal the complexities and contradictions of gender, immigration, love, sex, age, and violence of both the Punjabi and English communities and the different forms of isolation they experience in each. Something that many of us are feeling in the US right now.