'The best Australian novel I have read in more than a decade' Sydney Morning Herald
'Astonishing, captivating ... a wild, beautiful, heart-exploding ride' Elizabeth Gilbert
The bestselling novel that has taken Australia, and the world, by storm. Winner of Book of the Year at the 2019 Indie Book Awards, winner of a record four Australian Book Industry Awards in 2019, including the prestigious Book of the Year Award, and winner of the 2019 UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing, NSW Premier's Literary Awards
Brisbane, 1985: A lost father, a mute brother, a junkie mum, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. It's not as if Eli Bell's life isn't complicated enough already. He's just trying to follow his heart and understand what it means to be a good man, but fate keeps throwing obstacles in his way - not the least of which is Tytus Broz, legendary Brisbane drug dealer.
But now Eli's life is going to get a whole lot more serious: he's about to meet the father he doesn't remember, break into Boggo Road Gaol on Christmas Day to rescue his mum, come face to face with the criminals who tore his world apart, and fall in love with the girl of his dreams.
A story of brotherhood, true love and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe will be the most heartbreaking, joyous and exhilarating novel you will read all year.
2019 ABIA Book of the Year Award, Winner
2019 Indie Book Award, Winner
2019 UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing, NSW Premier's Literary Awards, Winner
2019 People's Choice Award, NSW Premier's Literary Awards, Winner
MUD Literary Prize 2019, Winner
2019 ABIA Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year, Winner
2019 ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year, Winner
2019 ABIA Audiobook of the Year, Winner
2019 Miles Franklin Literary Award, Longlisted
2019 Colin Roderick Award, shortlist
'Boy Swallows Universe is a wonderful surprise: sharp as a drawer full of knives in terms of subject matter; unrepentantly joyous in its child's-eye view of the world; the best literary debut in a month of Sundays.' The Australian
'Boy Swallows Universe hypnotizes you with wonder, and then hammers you with heartbreak.' Washington Post
'This thrilling novel' New York Times Book Review
'Marvelously plot-rich ... filled with beautifully lyric prose ...At one point Eli wonders if he is good. The answer is "yes," every bit as good as this exceptional novel.' Booklist
'Dalton's splashy, stellar debut makes the typical coming-of-age novel look bland by comparison ... This is an outstanding debut.' Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
'Extraordinary and beautiful storytelling' Guardian
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Journalist Trent Dalton’s riotous debut novel evokes the rough side of Australian suburbia in the ‘80s. Cheeky adolescent Eli "Captain Details” Bell and his mute brother, August, are being looked after by an ex-con while his stepdad runs heroin and his mum sits in prison. Just as Brisbane's biggest drug kingpin is threatening to make their lives even worse, Eli goes ahead and falls in love. A coming-of-age tale that made us laugh out loud (when it wasn’t breaking our hearts), Boy Swallows Universe just might be the next great Australian novel.
Dalton's splashy, stellar debut makes the typical coming-of-age novel look bland by comparison. The novel tracks bright, confused young narrator Eli as he moves through the ages of 12 to 19 in the 1980s in a seedy suburb of Brisbane. Eli's best friends are his older brother, August, an electively mute genius with premonitions of the future, and former felon Slim, his babysitter and a notorious, frequent escapee from a heavily guarded prison. Eli loves his parents, but they're a mess: his mom and step-dad deal heroin, and his dad is a depressed, panic-stricken alcoholic. The novel follows Eli as he nearly gets caught up in dealing drugs himself, discovers a secret room with a mysterious red telephone in his house, breaks into prison to wish his incarcerated mom a merry Christmas, and avenges the wrongs done to his family all while pursuing his dream of becoming a journalist. In less adept hands, these antics might descend into whimsy, but Dalton's broadly observant eye, ability to temper pathos with humor, and thorough understanding of the mechanics of plot prevent the novel from breaking into sparkling pieces. The author shapes Eli into an appealingly credible hero capable of shaping a future for himself despite a background that doesn't bode well for him. This is an outstanding debut.
I love this book and was captivated by the story. I am Molly Hook!
A must read. Boy triumphs.
What an awesome read. Couldn’t put it down. I lost myself in the captivating pages of Boy Swallow’s Universe. A rollercoaster of emotions within in a way one truly seeks from a good book. I’m so glad to have discovered this story- can happily recommend. Well done Trent Dalton!
Unusual but good. Worthwhile read