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The Autobiography of a Sex Worker

3.20  ·  Rating details ·  571 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Fiery, outspoken and often wickedly funny, this candid account of one woman's life as a sex worker in Kerala, India became a bestseller when it was first published in Malayalam. Nalini Jameela, who takes her name from both Hindu and Muslim traditions, worked as a child in the clay mines. She has been a wife,mother successful businesswoman and social activist-as well as a s ...more
143 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by Westland Books PVT Ltd. (first published 2005)
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3.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  571 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Nandakishore Varma
Aug 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
This is one of those books I had to drop in-between. I read the revised version (in Malayalam), not the original which had created such a controversy-and found it as dull as ditch-water. I was interested in knowing the trials and tribulations of a woman forced into selling her body, and the inner workings of the sex trade racket in Kerala. What I got was a sort of journal detailing the author's relationships with various customers, recited in a monotonous drone. Maybe it gets interesting further ...more
Varsha Naik
Really opened my eyes to the profession! The struggles of a poor woman, not just a sex worker but in general a poor woman and her struggles.

3.5 🌟

Non linear narrative, hurried narrative really took away the points.... Also as the author herself has said her last chapter was rushed in order to set the book straight (she had an older version which she decided to rewrite)

I would definitely read it if the author comes put with another new chapter!
Henna Achhpal
Mar 21, 2011 rated it liked it
A simple and good read. Nalini reflects the world of a sex worker as it is without any added masala or drama. Strictly referring to her work as sex work and calling herself and her peers sex workers and not other terms like prostitute or whore. After a few pages, you can see from her tone that her aim of writing is not to garner sympathy or pity for sex workers but just to bring to light what the life is like. A must read.
Geetika Vithalani
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
With a very slow start and an abrupt ending, this book was completely different from what I expected it to be. It is an emotionless journal of the day to day life of a sex worker. I appreciate the writer's courage to reclaim her first version of the autobiography and her very strong attempts towards the betterment of sex workers in India. But as far as this book is concerned, it just gives me a brief on the hardships face by them, where as I was looking for something with a psychological angle.
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Though raw, yet very outspoken and on-your-face account of a woman taking to the oldest livelihood option left to her to fend for herself and her child. Her account is sure to rattle many a skewed perception and come to question the validity of common parlance used in this context.
Anil Swarup
Apr 26, 2018 rated it liked it
There are indeed limitations of expression and articulation but the book presents a poignant story of a sex worker, her travails and tribulations as also the world view from her point of view.
Anuradha Gupta
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
No work is ever small, said someone I don’t know, but what I do know is that they would surely have a different opinion when it came to sex work. Admit it, however broad-minded we become, sex work is one of those untouched topics which will never enter our horizon of modern views.
The Autobiography of a Sex Worker by Nalini Jameela is the life story, or better a compilation of several anecdotes with wicked humor, of the author, trying to change the way we look at these women, and hoping to bring
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who like socially relevant literature
I can imagine the scandal this book caused and will cause for anyone expecting this to be the tragic story of a sex worker. This is a mostly unapologetic plainly written biography of a woman who chose to be a sex worker and does not admit to being guilt ridden about it. It's plainspoken and makes no attempts at being morally righteous or politically correct. I absolutely loved it for the basic way it was written with no attempts to ask for sympathy or to play the victim. The pace itself was some ...more
Jun 17, 2011 rated it did not like it
Very poorly written. But then again, how much can you really expect from a sex worker in Kerala?
Nitin Arora
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
"The Autobiography of a Sex Worker" was originally written in Malayalam by author Nalini Jameela. English version was translated by J.Devika.

This book portrays the journey of the author from a Sex Worker to a Social Reformer. She has shared her life experiences right from her childhood wherein she was from a well off family but due to change of circumstances she was made to work in Mines in her teenage years. As age progressed so was the need for money and that's how she ended up being a Sex Wor
Nitin Arora
"The Autobiography of a Sex Worker" was originally written in Malayalam by author Nalini Jameela. English version was translated by J.Devika.

This book portrays the journey of the author from a Sex Worker to a Social Reformer. She has shared her life experiences right from her childhood wherein she was from a well off family but due to change of circumstances she was made to work in Mines in her teenage years. As age progressed so was the need for money and that's how she ended up being a Sex Wor
Sowmya Ashok
Dec 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Nalini Jameela writes a candid, sometimes witty story of self-discovery, work, love, family and religion. The timelines in her narrative are haphazard. She describes events as she remembers them, more often than not devoid of sentiment. Even though it fails to evoke emotion, it allows you to see how stark her decisions had to be and why they had to be so. It also makes me think whether this matter-of-factly style of hers was to remove sympathy. It's wonderful to read about her introduction to se ...more
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book due to its intriguing title and because I got this book on Kindle for only Rs. 9. Not a bad price for an eye catching title. But frankly after reading it I am thinking I shouldn't have bought this book for reasons mentioned ahead.

No prizes for guessing this book is about sex worker, her childhood, her marriage, her getting into flesh business, her life and her journey. The story starts with a not so good n not so bad childhood. Her starting to work at an early age and feeling
Rahul Ammanath
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No doubt why this book was unacceptable and controversial upon it's publish. The society just can't accept the fact that a sex worker wrote her autobiography and it turned out to be a bestseller. Truth is always bitter to taste and most of the people pretend it is dark by blindfolding themselves. A brave attempt by the author. The language used for such a sensitive topic was really simple, there was not even a point in which a reader might have cringed because of the harsh language which was usu ...more
Apr 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: english
I was looking for some good books in Amazon Kindle store and I came across this book. First I thought Nalini Jameela is a writer and she wrote about a Sex worker. When I googled about her I found she wrote her own autobiography. when I came to know that Nalini Jameela was a sex worker, I was not expecting a masterpiece from her still I bought the book, firstly, I really want to know about a sex worker and secondly, I bought the book for Rs.9/- only. After I complete reading the book I am not ups ...more
Rama Vani
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
I picked this book with the curiosity to know about the life of the people who are considered immoral and undignified just for the profession they choose to earn their bread and butter. Nalini has it back and white ,the hardships in her life, mothering a girl child, police atrocities,her illness,her involvement as an activist.The language is very simple, the narration is raw and it looks more like reading an interview. Editing mistakes, too many names and an abrupt end makes the book score a two ...more
Arun Sankar
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book doesn’t portray the quintessential grammar and structure of an autobiography. However, the writer in a boldly manner has put forward a reflection on her life as a sex worker with enough detail. The situations which demanded her to take up that profession and how and why she doesn’t want to separate sex work from other professions are well crafted around her broad minded approach towards life. She necessarily questioned the reluctance of modern society to accept sex work as a profession ...more
Aseem Kumar
Dec 24, 2016 rated it liked it
I wish she could get a good editor and someone with good interviewing skills. These 2 will then be able to bring out her life story in a manner which will leave a lasting impression on the readers.

I salute Nalini for the courage with which she has faced many of the bad people that crossed her paths. She and many like her deserve so much than what they usually get. I hope more such people come out with their life stories.
Om Prakash
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not much amazed by the story but the truth is harsh and horrible. I feel, it has been dictated well as it should be like raw and immature. Since polishing of story through languages often ruin the anguish which comes from emotions. It fumbled many times but overall it has been well drafted.

Actually the book is explicit but not in language instead sharing the boldest quotation which she experienced in the life. Here are some

"Sex is not just a man’s need. Feminists aren’t very different from ordi
Inderpreet Uppal
A lot of hype but not too much substance. It talks of Nalini's life but on a superficial level. Skimming yet leaving out the depths.
It could have been much more hard-hitting to show the actual plight of sex-workers but I think maybe it got too much for the writer.
The last part about her activities to uplift the lot of sex workers was still okay but lacked depth.

May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
An eye-opener and an intriguing and shocking introduction to the other side of our society, we the middle ad the elite classes often think doesn't exist; Brings more completeness to our understanding of society and the hidden ways inwhich the upper and lower classes cross their roads
Manisha Singh
Aug 10, 2018 rated it liked it
The book gave me a good insight into a women's life who chose to sell her body to meet her financial needs. However, I was expecting the emotional journey of a women through all this which this book completely lacks in.
Does make for a good quick read though.
Tia Raina
Jul 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Only someone from this part of the world would understand the gritty and humorous undertones in the writing. Nonetheless, worth a read especially to sheltered Indians who don't like to admit that this reality exists along with the sterile world we live in.
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Insights into all what people have to do to survive.....
This memoir is about jameeals's thoughts and experiences being huddled together randomly right from childhood ,to sex-worker and then her role as an activist.
I wish the author found a good editor .

Average ....
Haripriya R
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Extremely real and an eye opener for all of us who do not know the harsh reality of lives of sex workers. Narrative may be very raw, well suited for the subject taken. This book can change your perspective on sex workers. This may not be entertaining. But definitely a good to read book.
Juhi Bansal
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
I had read Karma Sutra and I had loved it.. Thought this will be as deep as that was but this becomes boring after a point. There are so many names... similar names which are so confusing that I actually lost the track at one point. Could finish only 25% of this book!
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An eye opener, written with utter intellectual with the usage of simplest words. I wish I did know how to read Malayalam so that could have understood the first hand experience
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I haven't see it as the sex workers life . I could understand it mostly as the female view of the society how it treats .
Leela Pal Chaudhuri
Liked the raw honesty.
Dr. Ajith P  Rajan
Simple. But really appreciable...
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“We demand that sex work be decriminalised.” 0 likes
“Sex work and sexual exploitation are two different things.” 0 likes
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