‘Electric’ The Times
‘Thrilling’ New York Times
‘Extraordinary’ Joanna Cannon
THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
Life is pretty tough right now for twelve-year-old Eli – what with his mute brother, a convicted murderer for a babysitter, a drug-dealing stepfather, an incarcerated mother and a long-lost father – surely it can’t get any worse?
Think again. He’s about to fall in love, break into prison and cross paths with one of the most notorious criminals Brisbane has ever seen.
A coming-of-age story like no other, Boy Swallows Universe is the most exhilarating novel you’ll read all year.
‘Extraordinary … you will want this’ Joanna Cannon
‘Many coming-of-age novels set in the 1980s are little more than a roll-call of pop songs, retro snack foods and chopper bikes. Not this one. This is a proper literary novel about addiction, poverty, parenting and the power of love … Dalton has created an electric novel out of a troubled childhood … it’s a lively, funny affirmation of the human instinct for survival in a hostile environment’ The Times
‘Chock full of magic and what it really means to be a good person. The Bell brothers will stay with me for a very long time’ Rachael Brown, Guardian
‘Thrilling’ New York Times
‘Stellar … makes the typical coming-of-age novel look bland by comparison …This is an outstanding debut’ Publishers Weekly
‘Boy Swallows Universe hypnotizes you with wonder, and then hammers you with heartbreak. The events of Eli’s life are often fatal and tragic, but fate and tragedy do not overpower the story. Eli’s remarkably poetic voice and his astonishingly open heart take the day. They enable him to carve out the best of what’s possible from the worst of what is, which is the miracle that makes this novel marvellous’ Washington Post
‘Marvellous … filled with beautifully lyric prose … exceptional’ Booklist (Starred Review)
‘The best Australian novel I have read in more than a decade' Sydney Morning Herald
‘The most extraordinary writer – a rare talent' Nikki Gemmell
‘Unsuspectedly joyous… sad, warm, witty’ The Australian
Do you remember what it felt like as a kid when you poured an entire package of Pop Rocks into your mouth and felt them all explode at once? That’s what it feels like to read this astonishing, captivating novel — except more violent and bloody and urgent, and maybe the Pop Rocks are live grenades? … I absolutely loved it. Bravo, Trent Dalton. Thank you for the wild, beautiful, heart-exploding ride. Elizabeth Gilbert
About the author
Trent Dalton is a staff writer for The Weekend Australian Magazine and a former assistant editor of The Courier-Mail. He’s a two-time winner of a Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism, a three-time winner of a Kennedy Award for Excellence in NSW Journalism and a four-time winner of the national News Awards Feature Journalist of the Year. Boy Swallows Universe is his first book.
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.
One of my favourite books
Trent Dalton really has a way with words. He beautifully captures life from the eyes of his younger self using bizarre metaphors that somehow make perfect sense, like eating McDonald’s chips dipped in your McFlurry or melted cheese on your jam crumpets. 10/10
It took me a little bit to get into it, however, once I was there, it carried me away fully immersed into this rollercoaster of emotional and griping events. Loved it.
Boy Loves Novel
Absolutely the best novel I’ve read in ages. When I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it. I’m going to miss it now I’ve finished. I bet I’ll have a book hangover in the morning.