4.38 (123 ratings by Goodreads)
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'As compelling as it is tough, sidestepping piety in favour of clear-eyed infectious anger.' - Rebecca Nicolson Sunday Times

Irene Dalila Mwathi comes from Kenya with a brutally violent personal history. Once she wanted to be a journalist, now all she wants is to be safe. When she finally arrives, bewildered, in London, she is attacked by the very people paid to protect her, and she has no choice but to step out on her own into this strange new world. Through a dizzying array of interviews, lawyer's meetings, regulations and detention centres, she realises that what she faces may be no less dangerous than the violence she has fled.

Written with grace, humour and compassion, this timely and thought-provoking novel tackles its uncomfortable subject matter in a deeply affecting way. A book about forging dignity in a world of tragedy, and raising issues about immigration and asylum-seekers through the story of one woman's plight, Dalila is a necessary tale of our times. It is also a work of great literary power: a slow-burning, spell-binding novel about how we treat the vulnerable and dispossessed that will leave its readers devastated.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 368 pages
  • 144 x 222 x 33mm | 495g
  • Jonathan Cape Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 191070248X
  • 9781910702482
  • 1,045,069

Review Text

"It had me laughing one moment then in tears the next… A well-told story of what life throws at us and how we adapted to tell our story, our ubuntu."
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Review quote

"An extraordinary journey, following 21-year-old Dalila through a novel that is both hard to put down and hard to continue... Beautifully observed...what is being built transcends plot, emerging as a study of the nature of despair and memory." -- Roma Tearne * Guardian * "Donald grafts Dalila's experiences together with the precise pace of a thriller, and it is as compelling as it is tough, sidestepping piety in favour of clear-eyed infectious anger." -- Rebecca Nicolson * Sunday Times * "Just as history is written by the victors, the foreign is typically viewed from the perspective of the powerful, an imbalance to which Jason Donald's earnest, accomplished new novel Dalila is a corrective." -- Jessica Loudis * Times Literary Supplement * "Writing fiction that deals with social issues can be a tightrope walk... Jason Donald has walked that tightrope superbly." -- Doug Johnstone * Big Issue * "Jason Donald's writing is vivid and immediate, told in the present tense, with a constant sense of danger and often heart-rending to read. His heroine is one person who represents countless people; her story is no less powerful because it happens every day. Uncomfortable, but intensely truthful." -- Kate Saunders * The Times * "A vivid, vital novel, it's shot through with humour and tenderness." -- Anthony Cummins * Metro * "Dalila is written with such immense empathy." -- David Robinson * Scotsman * "Donald is a powerful literary writer, an author with real empathy and an unflinching eye." -- Jane Graham and Doug Johnstone * Big Issue, 2017 Books of the Year * "An achingly brutal depiction of how society treats asylum seekers - a tale that is especially relevant in today's world." * Irish Tatler, 2017 Books of the Year * "Dalila does for the Home Office what I, Daniel Blake did for the Department of Work and Pensions... stands to shine a light on the side of the migration story that never makes the news." * UK Press Syndication * "It had me laughing one moment then in tears the next... A well-told story of what life throws at us and how we adapted to tell our story, our ubuntu." -- Ian Wells * Nudge * "Dalila is one of the best pieces of fiction I've read in a while. Succinct yet beautifully descriptive, it would be impossible for any reader to come away from it without a renewed or newfound sympathy for genuine asylum seekers. This is an absorbing, heartbreaking novel." -- Noo Saro-Wiwa "Utterly compelling. Dalila, a multi-layered story of more than one displaced life, is as up-close, resonant and right-now as it gets." -- Janice Galloway "Dalila is a riveting examination of one of today's most urgent issues. Telling the story of a young and desperate Kenyan asylum-seeker, Jason Donald writes with insight (and considerable inside knowledge) about the particular purgatory through which she and so many like her have to pass. All the more powerful for not being a mere polemic, Dalila is grippingly authentic, transparently truthful and exceptionally moving." -- Christopher Hampton "A compelling novel of a young woman's struggle to find safety in a hostile world, Dalila examines some of the most important issues of our age. Powerful, compassionate and deeply human." -- Anne Donovan
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About jason Donald

Jason Donald was born in Scotland and grew up in South Africa. He studied English Literature and Philosophy at St Andrews University and, in 2005, graduated from Glasgow University's Creative Writing Masters Degree programme with distinction. His first novel, Choke Chain, was published by Cape in 2009.
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Rating details

123 ratings
4.38 out of 5 stars
5 52% (64)
4 34% (42)
3 14% (17)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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