Book Club: Meet Jasmine Aziz, Author of Sex and Samosas

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By  Sheba Siddiqui Life Writer, @shebasid   follow her blog: www.shebasiddiqui.com

Every once in awhile, a Masalamomma needs a break from her daily grind…the kids whining, the cooking, the cleaning and the chai making. What do we recommend? A good book! That’s why Masalamommas Online Magazine is excited to announce that we are launching our very own BOOK CLUB! We will profile authors and novels that push the limit, make us think outside the box and teach us something new…all with a South Asian flavor of course! Eventbrite - Masalamommas Bookclub with Jasmine Aziz

In the coming months we will hold several bookclubs with readings by authors at times in the Toronto Area and we look forward to your suggestions on books and authors to showcase.

Our first book is “Sex and Samosas”, written by Ottawa author Jasmine Aziz. Published in October 2011, the novel has  sold out  its first print in just four months. She says she believes that ‘every woman should know her own body better than anyone else and that she should have an unshakable sense of self before endeavouring to pursue a relationship with anyone else.’

I had the chance to ask Aziz all about her experience writing this book and why she chose such a taboo subject for her first novel.

How did you become an author?
I started writing poetry when I was 5 years old. And not just naughty limerick stuff! I wrote an episode for a sitcom in Grade 6 and a play in high school which was brought to life on stage. Listening, at the back of the auditorium, to the audience laughing at my play the first night of the production was when I first realized I was a writer and that writing was what I loved doing and what I wanted to do. Thank goodness it was a comedy or I might never have kept up my writing!

 Where did you find your inspiration for “Sex and Samosas”?
Mid way through my career selling vibrators, I left the long-term relationship I was in and found myself dealing with a myriad of emotions I didn’t know how to process. One night, I did a Bollywood Bachelorette party for 16 lovely 2nd generation South Asian women. That night the seed was planted in my mind about the cultural stigmas of being single in the South Asian community and I started to write.  The novel itself was a form of catharsis for me. The fact that no one will ever look at a samosa the same way again, after reading my novel, is just a bonus!

Do you use any of your own experiences in writing this book?
Like all authors, there are a few incidents that take place for Leena, the kernel of which come from my life, but the majority of the novel is fiction.  And if you’re asking where the inspiration for the samosa scene came from, well, that’s something best discussed over snacks (maybe ones less triangular in shape).

What is the premise of the novel?
“Sex & Samosas” is about a young married South Asian woman, Leena,  who is living a mediocre existence and is fairly content but like so many women, has never had an orgasm. She summons the courage to attend an adult vibrator party, buys a whole bunch of products to spice up her life and in turn over the course of the consequent chapters through a series of misadventures and mishaps, she learns not only how to take control of her sexual health but of her life in general.

How do you react to the taboo subject of sex in the South Asian community?
I find that the subject of sex and masturbation is taboo in almost every culture. The stigma associated with the South Asian community hits closer to home for me of course.  I react to it the same way I do with all things I write about: with candor and humor hoping that it will pave the way for more open discussions and true liberation.  With the population of South Asians worldwide being what it is, you wouldn’t guess they would be uptight about discussing sex would you? But somehow talking about sex openly is still frowned upon. That is, until I enter the room.

How do you think “Sex and Samosas” will change the subject of sex among women in the South Asian community?
I have already been blessed with many letters espousing the virtues of how my novel has helped women in the community feel less alone and has given them a platform that they can relate to.  My novel seems to be breaking down barriers that have been up too long and allowing women to be honest about their personal struggles and to help them find balance between the two cultures through these types of open discussions. I say in the book: “We wrote the Kama Sutra, but we didn’t read it”. Being born South Asian doesn’t automatically give you a pass to tantric fulfillment and I think the novel makes the struggle clearer and provides a segue for dialogue.

What reaction are you receiving from the South Asian community with regards to your book?
There has been a variety or responses from the South Asian community with regard to my novel.  I have heard the extremes from some very Old World Aunties who think the book should never have been written (I’m not expecting any proposals to come from them) and there have also been some of the same generation who applaud me for being brave enough to tackle the subjects I broach in my book. For the most part, the younger generation of South Asians readers are extremely supportive. I have received reactions from both men and women of the community that have been very gracious in praise for the honesty with which I approach the taboos in the book.

Join us for our very first BOOK CLUB meet on April 19th in Toronto  (see above registration link) for a dinner date as we sit down with author Jasmine Aziz and discuss her book “Sex and Samosas”, preferably without ordering samosas… For more info and to rsvp: info@masalamommas.com.

Sex & Samosas

Available online at www.amazon.ca, www.amazon.com and www.jasmineaziz.com

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