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Jason Donald

Jason Donald was born in Dundee and grew up in Pretoria.  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 shortlisted for both the Saltire First Book of the Year and the Author’s Club Debut Novel of the Year. His second novel, Dalila, has been shortlisted for the Saltire Society Fiction Book of the Year. Dalila is a remarkably moving tale of one woman’s heart-breaking journey through the UK asylum system. Wonderfully voiced, sparse, funny, tear-jerking – this is a slow-burning, spell-binding novel that will leave the reader devastated. Film rights have been optioned and the screenplay is being written by Christopher Hampton (Atonement, Dangerous Liaisons, A Dangerous Method) 

Books in order of publication:

Choke Chain (2009)

Dalila (2018)

In praise of Jason Donald:

‘[A]n extraordinary journey.. a novel that is both hard to put down and hard to continue. Beautifully Observed.. What is being built transcends mere plot, emerging as a study of the nature of despair and memory.’ The Guardian

 ‘Jason Donald’s writing is vivid and immediate, 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.’ The Times

 ‘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. A persuasive story about makeshift communities, fractured integration, bureaucratic cruelty and the importance of hope in the face of a system that ceaselessly chips away at it.’ Sunday Times

‘Excellent’ – The Guardian

‘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

‘Reads like a dream, races along and open-heartedly reveals one corrupt road by which boys should not become men.’ –  Janice Galloway

‘This is an exceptional debut.’ – The Independent

 ‘Dalila is written with such immense empathy.” The Scotsman

“An achingly brutal depiction of how society treats asylum seekers – a tale that is especially relevant in today’s world.” Tatler, 2017 Books of the Year

 ‘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

Choke Chain completely and triumphantly defines its own territory – the novel’s restraint concealing its building power and its huge compassion.’ – Alan Warner

 ‘Astonishingly assured’ – The Scotsman

 ‘Dalila feels like a Ken Loach film mixed with the pace and engagement of a thriller. It’s an important book about an important issue, compelling from the first page to the last…  the tension is nerve-shredding. The author establishes such empathy with his characters that the reader is compelled to read on.’ The Big Issue

‘A vivid, vital novel, it’s shot through with humour and tenderness but, ultimately, this brutal portrait of absurd bureaucratic cruelty has nothing heart-warming about it – and that’s the point.’ Metro


Jason Donald Titles