19 April, 2021

Their Book Of Revelations

Southal’s Punjabi widows lead lives of abject pettiness, yet explode into lurid sexual thoughts when prompted. This novel unearths their buried desires.

Illustration by Sajith Kumar
Their Book Of Revelations

Not a big fan of erotica by Indian writers, I was in two minds, quite honestly, about reviewing Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, the third novel by Balli Kaur Jaswal, a 33-year-old Ind­ian author born in Singapore. The book has received rave reviews, with The Economist saying, “Ms Jaswal has written a funny and moving tale of desire and its discontents. It serves as a rem­inder that even the most traditional societies often come in 50 shades of grey”. The Straits Times, strongly recommending the novel, declared: “If you like your erotica with a social conscience, this is the book for you.”

A dark and heart-warming comedy, the novel offers a sneak peak into the chequered lives of Punjabi widows, forced to remain in the intimidating shadows of their fathers, husbands and brothers, but whose pristine white ‘dupattas’ deceptively camouflage their deepest sexual desires and erotic fantasies, linked intrinsically with their sense of self-worth, their place in a highly patriarchal, top heavy, familial...

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