One of the perks of organising a literature festival is to read books by potential participants. One of those books was “Inshallah” by Alys Einion, who will be running a workshop at the Llandeilo Lit Fest, Sunday April 30th at 4pm, entitled:
I was hesitant about the book because of the wide-spread islamophobia in recent times, and only by getting to know Alys closer did I feel re-assured enough that this would not be offensive. And indeed it was far from it.
The story is told by a Welsh woman from the valleys who marries a man from Saudi Arabia and moves there with him. Her naivity about what to expect is soon replaced by the slow realisation that this is going to take some acclimatisation. The differences in culture and gender roles are overwhelming. In her case the husband also turns violent and her only friends are other women, who lead a variety of different lives. Einion brings in enough decent characters to ensure that we see the wife-beater for what he is and religious and gender oppression as not the only thing worth mentioning about life in Saudi Arabia.
There is a huge amount of details about local customs that made this novel interesting on many levels. All fears about the use of negative stereotypes proved unnecessary. Some uncomfortable truths about the experience of Saudi Arabia from a Western perspective cannot be helped, but at its heart the book is really also the coming of age of a woman who develops coping mechanisms and a will to survive. Warmth, friendship and personal reflection distinguish the book from more exploitative adventure novels of similar premises and lift it into the heartland of character development and literary fiction.
Despite some tough going and uncomfortable parts there is much to enjoy.
Alys Einion is an Associate Professor in Midwifery with a PGCE, two Masters degrees, and a PhD in Creative Writing focusing on women’s life writing and the intersection between fact and fiction.
At the Llandeilo Lit Fest Alys will offer tips on how to improve your writing skills, and how to take an idea from initial draft to final manuscript. She will also talk about her experience with creative writing courses and give advice on researching and choosing the right writing course for you.
The PhD in creative writing is her crowning achievement, as it led to the publication of her first novel, the Kindle bestseller Inshallah published by Honno Press (www.honno.co.uk). The book takes an intimate and uncompromising stance on women and domestic violence, exploring one woman’s experience of family life in a Muslim culture, where her faith, and the women around her, are her saving graces.
She currently teaches on the Bachelor of Midwifery programme, contributes to the Nursing programmes, and contributes to postgraduate programmes in Health and Education. She is the programme leader for the HE Certificate in Maternity Care, and she is an active blogger and writer. She is proud to be the co-author of a midwifery textbook, and a chapter contributor to other books (including four new books due out in the next year). She supports colleagues and friends in developing their writing skills and also acts as a Mentor for the Women in Universities Mentoring Scheme. She is co-Chair of the staff LGBT+ network at Swansea University.
In the past she has been a Creative Writing Tutor and also worked for Velvet magazine for five years as marketing officer (unpaid). She worked for 10 years as a freelance copy writer, editor and transcriptionist and is now a member of the Editorial Board of the Practising Midwife Journal and regularly contributes to the journal.
Gwella eich sigliau ‘sgwennu gyda Alys Einion
Dydd Sul, Ebrill 30 am 4 o’r gloch yn yr Angel
Mae Alys Einion yn fydwraig gyda doethuriaeth mewn ysgrifennu Creadigol.
Bydd Alys yn cynnig canllawiau defnyddiol ar sut i wella eich ysgrifennu creadigol o’r drafft cyntaf i’r profeln terfynol. Mae ei nofel gyntaf, Inshalla (Gwasg Honno) am fenywod, trais yn y cartref a’r diwylliant Mwslemaidd.