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Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

Why did Mindi want an arranged marriage?

And yes, the erotic stories are shared.  Just because of the title, I expected comedy, some coming of age and Learning Life’s Lessons, but I got much more. It’s a credit to Jaswal’s writing that I wasn’t disappointed by that, sooner the opposite.

Yes, there’s definitely comedy, and main character Nikki (Mindi’s sister) needs to discover what she wants to do in live and how she’ll do that without hurting her Punjabi family (and surroundings, in a way). This is definitely a story about the two lives immigrants/children of immigrants live, but it’s never just that. Nikki thinks she’s going to teach the widows Creative Writing, the widows prefer to share their creativity in another way.

Alongside that is a plot line that at first might feel tacked on. Missing girls, bitter feuds, really? But then it all starts to connect and this isn’t just a comedy any more, this is an all too realistic calling card to look at misogyny. Suddenly the tempo is picked up and the reader has to juggle several plot lines colliding.

But as mentioned before, Balli Kaur Jaswal does it well. Making this novel all-round entertaining and informing.

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, Balli Kaur Jaswal, Harper Collins 2017

Exit West

In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, a young man met a young woman in a classroom and did not speak to her.

This is an author of which I like his stories, and usually his detached way of writing, yet find it hard to put into words what I precisely like about both things mentioned.

This time he manages to make the refugee story (people fleeing versus people accepting and or fighting their addition to their familiar surroundings) slightly magical and/yet apocalyptic. Because the main characters are refugees, but they manage to leave their country through a door, a black hole, that can appear behind any door. This means that people from all around the world appear all around the world without the lethal trips and troubles.

But after that, there’s still acceptance to fight for. The book is pretty evenly divided between before, during and after the migratory moves and changes. This way you don’t have to think about the ever after, Hamid provides.

In the end, it’s kind of a hopeful story with plenty of realism to make you feel better about the subject.

Exit West, Mohsin Hamid, Hamish Hamilton 2017

The Hollow

10 x 24 min.

Ja, wat is dit dan nu weer? Om de zoveel tijd probeer ik een geanimeerde serie, omdat ik daar mee ben opgegroeid en fijne herinneringen aan heb terwijl ik tegelijkertijd niet die nostalgische meut met ‘vroeger was alles beter’ wil zijn. Om die reden is veel anime niet the hollow netflixaan mij besteed, maar er is meer animatie dan anime.

Onderdeel daarvan is The Hollow, een Canadese serie die nu op Netflix te vinden is. Het zijn dan wel tieners die in een vreemde wereld wakker worden zonder dat ze weten wie en waar ze zijn, het is zeker geen kinderachtige serie. Na een ietwat log begin, ontvouwt de serie in iets dat Dali-light genoemd zou kunnen worden; minotaurussen, poorten naar andere werelden, het zieke paard van de Dood en zo verder. Het is vreemd en soms een beetje eng, tot één van de hoofdrolspelers weer zijn rol als comedic relief invult.

Het unheimliche gevoel verdwijnt snel wanneer de clue bereikt is, en de serie wordt weer standaard zaterdagochtend-kindertelevisiemateriaal. Misschien hoef je de laatste aflevering niet eens te bekijken. Maar daarvoor … daarvoor is het best allemaal vermakelijk met een vreemd randje.

The Hollow, Netflix 2018

The Dressmaker

Travellers crossing the wheat-yellow plains to Dungatar would first notice a dark blot shimmering at the edge of the flatness.

I completely understand why they turned this into a movie. Because The Dressmaker is not just a contained (small Australian village) story, it’s so full of detail that the visuals are already all there. Characters are clear cut, there’s an enticing plot of highs and lows and wardrobe can go all out because there’s nothing this dressmaker can’t make.

Tilly goes back to this small village of her birth, but even though she changed, the opinions on her and her mother didn’t. When discovering thus, she doesn’t accept it for the second time, but goes about it in a creative way.

That might make things sound like a thriller, but the back text calls it a shrewd comedy, and isn’t wrong in that. It’s a compact story as well; finding and watching the movie might take you longer. Is it still hot enough outside to call this a summer read?

The Dressmaker, Rosalie Ham, Duffy & Snellgrove 2000

Good Girls

10 x 42 min.

Soms is Netflix lekker snel en dan hoef je niet te bedenken waar je de titel nu ook al weer van kent, maar zit je nog in de staart van andermans (meestal Amerikaans) enthousiasme en kun je gelijk meedoen. Oh ja, hier vond ik de trailers leuk van!

Good-Girls-Poster-NBCDrie vrouwen zitten in financiële problemen en besluiten dat dat het beste op te lossen is met een supermarkt overvallen. Daar zit nooit zo heel veel geld, maar genoeg om hen te helpen. Tsja, lijkt dat nu net een supermarkt van een gang te zijn! Vervolgens moeten de drie van alles doen om het geld terug te betalen.

Comedy dus, en grotendeels van de tijd ook om te lachen. Soms maakt Annie wel hele domme en vervelende opmerkingen en beslissingen, en er zijn genoeg stereotypes om af te strepen, maar stiekem lijkt iedereen er wel lol in te hebben, en dat is besmettelijk.

Groot voordeel is dat het merendeel van de grappen niet vrouwonvriendelijk is, en de drie hoofdrolspelers ook op verschillende manieren vrouw mogen zijn. Zit er bijna nog een feministisch tintje aan je zomers vermaak.

Good Girls, Netflix/NBC 2018

The Drawing of the Three

The gunslinger came awake from a confused dream which seemed to consist of a single image: that of the Tarot deck from which the man in black had dealt (or purported to deal) the gunslinger’s own moaning future.

I really thought I had read more from these series, but I’m pretty sure I would have remembered this book if I would have. So here we are, the second book in the Dark Tower series. Now I definitely understand people’s confusion about trying to tell this story/these stories in just one movie.

As usual with series, it’s a bit of a challenge to not spoil previous books, especially because I can’t remember anything from the first novel. Luckily, in these editions is a handy ‘Here’s What You Missed’ part before the story picks up again.

What you probably should know, starting these series, is that this is eerie Stephen King, not straight shooter/thriller Stephen King. There’s fantastical elements but also some that veer quite close to horror territory, and there’s not many straight plot lines. If you don’t mind that and are looking for (the build up of) an epic, I’d definitely recommend trying this series.

The Drawing of the Three, Stephen King, Sphere 1990

Career of Evil

He had not managed to scrub off all of her blood.

This is going to be a grumpy review, with some (mild) spoilers.

First of all, why did I expect things to be much less misogynistic because of a female author (Galbraith is J.K. Rowling)? Was that a very stupid idea? Don’t we know already from the serial killer’s actions that he really doesn’t like women? And I know she isn’t the most original writer, but really, we had to put rape in a woman’s background?

Okay, to the story. Cormoran Strike is still a big, ungainly, ugly private detective that can barely keep his agency upright. Robin, intelligent, smart, fun and kind of attractive, is still his partner/employee/potential love-interest. This time the case seems to be quite personal, because Robin gets sent a severed leg, at the office! This seems to be the gateway to learning a bit more about her, but sadly there isn’t much cheer to be had about this. And all the while is just misogyny left and right, oh – with some romance sprinkled in.

Because in the previous books, and about the previous books, there had been plenty of comments about how Robin and Cormoran should start something, but Robin’s engagement (to someone without any visible redeeming feature) always kept that off. So when that changes, both people involved seem to fall back to something instinctual that means you suddenly have to get romantic feelings about the people close to you. It feels so shoehorned in that I wonder if Galbraith wasn’t writing some romance on the side and swapped documents from time to time.

There’s plenty of good detectives out there, and J.K. Rowling writes enough if that’s the shot you were looking for. But you can dodge this one.

Career of Evil, Robert Galbraith, Sphere 2015