Author Jason Hewitt treated his guests to an unusual “immersive theatre” launch for his book The Dynamite Rooms at The Vault's in London's Waterloo last night (2nd April).
Guests arrived to the Simon & Schuster event down candlelit graffitied tunnels for an evening of immersive theatre, live 1940s music and spam sandwiches in celebration of the debut novel .
Hewitt said he wanted the event to break ranks with typical book launches and immerse guests more fully in the novel by using live art installations and acting out a selection of brief scenes taken from the story. To this end, professional actors recreated a summer picnic in Berlin's Tiergarten, a storm-battered 'dynamite room' of Norway and an English summer fete-themed party, complete with live music including strings, a professional jazz singer and a swing band. “The idea was to give the guests a visually stimulating, imaginative and exciting experience that linked them fully within the world of the novel, and inspired them to read the story,” Hewitt said.
Jessica Leeke, S&S senior fiction commissioning editor, said the party was conceived and curated by Jason himself. “It was testament to his creativity, his unique talents and his extraordinary determination,” she said. “He’s brought an amazing energy to the publication of The Dynamite Room and we are extremely grateful to him for this, and so proud to call ourselves his publishers.”
The Dynamite Room is set in Suffolk in July 1940 and tells the story of 12-year-old Lydia who is held captive in her own home by a German soldier.
Radio 4’s Open Book recorded at the event for an upcoming feature on book launches with a difference and the launch sold out of 150 copies of the book.
Earlier today, The Dynamite Room was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize for British debut fiction. Other writers on the list include prize-winners Nathan Filer, Eimer McBride, Sam Byers, Donal Ryan so he is up there with the best and the brightest of British writers.