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If you liked Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, you'll love...

Columnist Aparita Bhandari on why Everything Was Goodbye by Gurjinder Basran is the perfect Canadian companion to Balli Kaur Jaswal's playful novel.
Aparita Bhandari believes if you liked Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows you should check out Everything Was Good-bye. (Penguin Random House)

The manuscript for Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal was the subject of a publisher bidding war, and the film rights were snapped up right away. It's the third novel from Jaswal, who grew up in Singapore, Japan, Russia and the Philippines.

Columnist Aparita Bhandari has read Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows and she believes she has found its Canadian equivalent in Everything Was Good-bye by Gurjinder Basran. This interview originally aired on Oct. 23, 2017.

Why Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows is a great book

"In this lively, sexy and thought-provoking east-meets-west story things get pretty steamy. In the middle is Nikki, who lives and tends a bar in west London. She comes from a traditional Indian family and, after the untimely death of her father, she finds herself helping her family with their finances. One day, she happens to see an ad for creative writing class and thinks, 'Maybe I can teach this'. It turns out to be a literacy class for Sikh widows. They come together and start writing — they are there to learn English and literacy, but she's there to teach creative writing through erotic stories. Nikki assumes they are conservative and lead sheltered lives but soon discovers they have steamy stories to tell. It brings together the lighter side of things and the sense of a culture clash. Through the stories, you find out about other contemporary issues that are going on in England amongst the Sikh Punjabi community."

Why you should read Everything Was Good-bye

"Everything Was Good-bye by Gurjinder Basran tells a similar story set in Vancouver's Sikh community. The main character Meena also struggles with her identity as the youngest of six girls, daughter of a single mother. Meena is interested in creative writing and eventually lands a job in a PR firm, but then goes through with an arranged marriage because that's what is expected of her. At the same time, she had a connection with Liam, whom she met at school, and who comes back later in her life. The idea of identity and of culture clash is also present in Everything Was Good-bye." 

Aparita Bhandari's comments have been edited and condensed.