The Dynamite Room

A Novel


By Jason Hewitt

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Accomplished, resonant and surprising (Guardian) — a debut for fans of Summer of My German Soldier.

In July 1940, eleven-year-old Lydia escapes life as a child evacuee in Wales. She arrives home to her English village, gas mask in tow, only to find it abandoned. Her family’s house is shuttered and empty. Lydia settles in though, determined to wait out the war.

Later that night he arrives: a wounded soldier, gun-wielding, heralding a full-blown German invasion. He says he won’t hurt Lydia, but she cannot leave the house.

The unlikely pair coexists in their claustrophobic confines, becoming dependent on each other for survival. Lydia soon realizes that the soldier knows more than he should about her family — and that he’s plotting something for them both.

Eerie, gripping, and incredibly moving, The Dynamite Room brings an original and contemporary resonance to the great tradition of war classics.

  • Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize

    A Barnes and Noble's Discover Great New Writers pick of 2015


    "Wow. Wonderful."--Chris Cleave, author of Little Bee and Gold
  • "Suspenseful and powerful. A novel of great humanity that exposes the absurd contradictions of war."--Samantha Harvey, author of The Wilderness, short-listed for the Orange Prize and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
  • "Superb. Absorbing, suspenseful and with a beautifully poetic touch."--Nathan Filer, author of the Costa Award-winning The Shock of the Fall
  • "Clever and unsettling, this most unconventional of war stories had me totally gripped."--Shelley Harris, author of Jubilee
  • "An effective psychological drama between two extraordinary characters. Claustrophobic, touching, character-driven, and told in lovely prose...Readers who loved The Boy in the Striped Pajamas will have a strong affinity with The Dynamite Room."--Katie Ward, author of Girl Reading
  • "The Dynamite Room grabs you from the outset and refuses to let you go. Whilst building strong psychological tension between the two characters, it still skillfully achieves empathy, ultimately, for both. A compelling, powerful and humane book."--Judith Allnatt, author of The Moon Field
  • "With its unshowy, confident prose, this novel is accomplished, resonant and surprising, and poses some delicately handled questions about whether redemption is possible, and at what point a good heart becomes forever besmirched."--Jill Dawson, Guardian
  • "Ambitious and often gripping...Hewitt has a strong sense of narrative pace and brings a strange poetry to his depiction of an exhausted and empty world...A very promising first novel."--Observer (UK)
  • "As powerfully visualized as a screenplay... Hewitt handles this complicated narrative with assurance, juggling the reader's sympathies while adding crumbs of information, all the while pitting Heiden's tarnished ideals against Lydia's vulnerability. A sense of theatricality pervades the contemporary scenes--small cast, stifling domestic setting--but these are usefully crafted in the closing pages to deliver a jolting finale. An unusual, intricate drama delivered with accomplishment."--Kirkus Reviews
  • "[A] strong debut...well-crafted and engrossing. In the confines of a house that can feel at once claustrophobic and expansive, he artfully explores family and identity, and how war changes the lives of both soldiers and civilians."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • "In this fine balance of taut suspense and tragedy, Hewitt has created an emotionally charged character study in which he explores the loneliness, fear, hope, and shame
    that war visits on ordinary people. Mystery and general-fiction book groups will enjoy dissecting these characters and their nuanced story; highly recommended to fans of Karin Fossum as well as to readers of character-driven historical fiction."—Booklist (starred review)

On Sale
Jun 14, 2016
Page Count
304 pages

Jason Hewitt

About the Author

Jason Hewitt is a novelist, playwright and actor. He was born in Oxford, and lives in London. His debut novel, The Dynamite Room, was long-listed for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Authors’ Club First Novel Award.

Learn more about this author