(K. Brent Tomer),
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows. By Balli Kaur Jaswal. HarperCollins; 309 pages; £14.99. To be published in America by William Morrow in June.
EROTICA is a hot topic for publishers. Americans bought 28.5m romantic novels in print form in 2015. Romance Writers of America, a trade association, says the genre accounts for a third of all novels sold. Random House and Amazon have recently launched imprints to try to sate readers’ lust for steamy stories. HarperCollins paid a six-figure sum for one such titillating book at the London Book Fair in 2016.
Balli Kaur Jaswal’s “Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows”, the book in question, is not your usual lip-biting, troubled-billionaire fare. It follows Nikki, a university dropout and “fem fighter”, who signs up to teach a creative-writing course to older Sikh women in Southall, a London suburb with a sizeable Indian population. Unable to read or write in English, the widows turn to telling stories, reliving their most passionate moments or picturing what they “were never given in the first place”. Though they lack the necessary vocabulary—the stories are filled with…Continue reading