Boy Swallows Universe

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Pub Date 5 Jul 2018 | Archive Date 1 Apr 2022

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'Chock full of magic ... will stay with me for a long time' Rachael Brown, Guardian

An utterly wonderful novel of love, crime, magic, fate and coming of age from one of Australia's most exciting new writers. The Indie Book of the Year 2019.

Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious criminal for a babysitter. It's not as if Eli's life isn't complicated enough already.

But Eli's life is about to get a whole lot more serious. He's about to fall in love. And he has to break into prison on Christmas Day, to save his mum.

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.

'Chock full of magic ... will stay with me for a long time' Rachael Brown, Guardian

An utterly wonderful novel of love, crime, magic, fate and coming of age...

Advance Praise

'Welcome to the weird and wonderful universe of Trent Dalton, whose first work of fiction is, without exaggeration, the best Australian novel I have read in more than a decade... profound and complex... The book is jam-packed with such witty and profound insights into what's wrong and what's right with Australia and the world... A rollicking ride, rich in philosophy, wit, truth and pathosSydney Morning Herald

'A story in thrall to the potential the world holds for lightness, laughter, beauty, forgiveness, redemption, and love... [Dalton] invests this unlikely cast and milieu with considerable energy, wit and charm' The Australian

'Trent Dalton is the most extraordinary writer - a rare talent' Nikki Gemmell

'An astonishing achievement. Dalton is a breath of fresh air - raw, honest, funny, moving, he has created a novel of the most surprising and addictive nature. Unputdownable' David Wenham

'Joyoyous. Simply joyous. I hugged myself as I read it. My heart raced, swelled, burst; my eyes leaked tears; my stomach ached from laughter. Boy Swallows Universe is - I can't think of a word more apt - magical. This vibrant, vital, altogether miraculous coming-of-age novel marks the debut of an exquisitely gifted storyteller... and what's more, it's transformative: After reading Trent Dalton's book, you won't be the same as you were before' A.J. Finn, author of The Woman in the Window

'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 Weekend Australian

'Dalton's splashy, stellar debut makes the typical coming-of-age novel look bland by comparison... 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... This is an outstanding debut' Publishers Weekly 

'A marvelously plot-rich novel, which... is filled with beautifully lyric prose... Exceptional' Booklist 

'Welcome to the weird and wonderful universe of Trent Dalton, whose first work of fiction is, without exaggeration, the best Australian novel I have read in more than a decade... profound and complex....

Available Editions

ISBN 9780008319267
PRICE £0.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 101 members

Featured Reviews

A well written, engaging and thought provoking book.
I loved the style of writing, the well written characters and the the plot.
I look forward to reading other books by this author.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.

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Absolutely wonderful. 4.5 stars but rounding it up because it’s definitely a cut above other 4stars. Charming, convincing characters, grittily realistic and a little bit magical all the same time. Can be a little bit slow in places, but by the end those nostalgic flashbacks make more sense. But truly a glorious read, and a unique perspective

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wow I am beyond words. What a moving and heart tugging book this. It isn't often that a book will stay with you long after you read it but this one will

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I loved everything about this book! Drawn from childhood memories, Boy Swallows Universe recalls the tragedies, loneliness and heartbreak of Eli’s tough upbringing. With the onset of adulthood and his increasing control of life’s circumstances, Eli seeks answers to his family’s past tragedies and thus acceptance of who he is. As an ex-patriot, the colloquialisms and familiar geographical settings made this novel an absolute delight to read, not to mention more than a little nostalgic.

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I am speechless, it’s hard to put into words such a book as this. Moving, thought provoking, heart breaking, intense, captivating, addictive read. The writing is almost lyrical and so imaginative it’s beautiful, I love writers who can do this. An amazing book that will stay with you long after you read it.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion

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If I had to describe this novel in three words they would be emotional, effortful and impactful in more or less equal measures.

After having read “Boy Swallows Universe” I feel that I am completely indebted to Trent Dalton! This book has all the components that make a really fantastic story: from the mood and undercurrents to the very clever writing and the experience of love and friendship, not forgetting the feelings of hope, desperation and failure. Trent Dalton has drawn a remarkable young narrator to adore in Eli, growing up in his vastly dysfunctional family. 

There were instances where this was a very difficult read for me, being as it was a little like sitting on a roller-coaster, however, it was extremely worthwhile even though, by my standards, it was a fairly lengthy novel. 

 I enjoyed “Boy Swallows Universe” so much and I'm hoping to read more by Trent Dalton soon…

[Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss, HarperCollins UK and the author, Trent Dalton, for my free ARC of #BoySwallowsUniverse in exchange for an honest review.]

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