'As compelling as it is tough, sidestepping piety in favour of clear-eyed infectious anger' 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.
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.
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.
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.
Writing fiction that deals with social issues can be a tightrope walk… Jason Donald has walked that tightrope superbly.
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.