• Boy Swallows Universe

  • The International Bestseller
  • By: Trent Dalton
  • Narrated by: Stig Wemyss
  • Length: 16 hrs and 42 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (166 ratings)

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Boy Swallows Universe  By  cover art

Boy Swallows Universe

By: Trent Dalton
Narrated by: Stig Wemyss
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Publisher's Summary

'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 hear all year.

Reviews:

'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

©2018 HarperCollins Publishers Australia pty Ltd (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers Australia pty Ltd

Critic Reviews

Awards:

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

"I couldn't stop reading from the moment I started, and I still can barely speak for the beauty of it. Trent Dalton has done something very special here, writing with grace, from his own broken heart." (Caroline Overington) 

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

"One of the best Australian novels I've ever read." (The Guardian)  

What listeners say about Boy Swallows Universe

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Lost in the world of Ely Bell

Trent Dalton’s magnificently crafted world of Ely Bell, where detail painted every scene of this gripping story. Sting Wemyss was perfect for all the characters of Ely’s universe. A story for lovers of detail, emotion, great characters in a well told story. My first audiobook and won’t be my last!

2 people found this helpful

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Slow to start but very intriguing...

Took a while to get interesting then it became hard to stop listening as the next drama unfolds. Delightful, encouraging, optimistic and hard to stop listening.

1 person found this helpful

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Delightful

A well narrated tale about two quirky sons surrounded by dysfunctional adults. Witty and gritty the lead character is loveable and believeable. I was entertained the whole way through.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant!

I wasn’t sure after the first few chapters but so glad I continued. The character development was incredible, heart-wrenching and brutally honest.
Book of the year for me as the narration was as brilliant as the story.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant!

I loved this book - an enthralling story written with wit and style. And with the added bonus of one of the best narrations I’ve heard on Audible. Stig’s accents and intonations of the different voices were perfect.

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Most devastatingly heart wrenching story ever.

This has to be the most devastating and beautiful story I've ever heard. It had me cheeringcheckout loud and it had me sobbing my heart out. I loved it entirely.

1 person found this helpful

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Author Writes Masterpiece

Brilliantly written. Brilliantly narrated.
A rich, colourful story that takes you to a place you never expected. Poetic yet pedestrian. Philosophical yet feisty. Universal yet domestic.
An epic tale told exceptionally well that is a must for all audiobook lovers.

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Thank you

I have read many books and funny enough some of my favourite have been by Australia authors but this has been the pinnacle of my reading journey. Thank you for sharing your imagination with us, your story telling has provided me with many hours of escape. I have laughed, cried and held my breath through the story of Boy Swallows Universe.
Thank you

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Wow

Push through the beginning as this book builds throughout to a fantastic finish. Best book I have read this year. Wow

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An Australian classic in the making

I could smell, taste, see and hear my childhood. Dalton captures a recent but forgotten time in Australian history with his “details”. A love story, science fiction and crime novel all in one book. My best read/listen of the year

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  • Al
  • 07-01-18

Exceptional

I selected this book without much thought but can't recommend it highly enough. The performance by the reader was perfect too.

28 people found this helpful

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  • Fiona_S
  • 10-08-18

Hard to press stop!

This was a wonderfully written and read. It brought Queensland in 80's to life. Highly recommend this title.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Nat Venosi
  • 01-12-19

Not for me, sadly

I’m sure this book deserves all the accolades it has received but I found the audio and characters very difficult to warm to, the narrators tone and the books descriptive obscurities inhibited my ability to picture the characters and setting. It felt like a literary task rather than an enjoyable escape and I found myself avoiding it to listen to others. Perhaps a book better read by oneself.

22 people found this helpful

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  • AV
  • 02-03-19

what a brilliant book!

This is a long book, but a profound and complex story from the perspective of a boy growing up in the poorer parts of Brisbane. The reader has the perfect voice for this story, light and Australian without being too broad. And what insight this book provides - into life as a teenage boy, the drug world, the rough world of family violence and the triumph of love in all its various types and forms. If you want an insight into growing up hard in any part of Australia this is it, and further if you wanted a view on family life and making ends meet, passion and bravery this is it too. Almost impossible to turn off at the end as it moves towards the a conclusion worthy of any great novel.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Renae
  • 09-11-19

Gave it a good crack

I read the good reviews and I can’t help but wonder if I’m reading the same book. So tedious, the narrator is so annoying, especially the terrible accents, the story is rambling. Not engaging at all. I hung on for 6 hours and I honestly couldn’t take anymore. Returned this book. Disappointed.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Julie
  • 12-18-18

Great read but too long

This was a great listen. So well written however I think the author just laboured too much on over-descriptive text. It got a bit much as the book went on - too "colourful" at times (to quote the book). It took me about 10 chapters to fully get into it, then the bulk of the book was gripping, but then then the last 10 chapters or so really let the book down. Just too far-fetched and not in line with the main story in the rest of the book. For me the ending was disappointing and was in contrast to the high calibre of the rest of the story.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Lexi
  • 02-03-19

Love love love

What an incredible story! I loved it so much and I’m so sad it’s over! It reminded me of The Goldfinch ... but better. A must read. Enjoy!

11 people found this helpful

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  • Lisa
  • 02-21-19

Details Details Details

This book had the potential to be a nice little story but it was sadly and painfully full of annoying useless details which detracted from the story and instead of adding interest makes your mind wander and pray for the end. The narrator’s voice is also irritating.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Squidgeebabe
  • 02-04-19

Get it!

I was totally impressed with this book. The story was brilliant and well put together and the narrator was excellent. I was totally spellbound right from the start. Another book where life gets in the way of a great story. Looking forward to future books.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Jay
  • 11-07-19

Terrible performance, ok novel.

The reader over acts the entire book but then again the story is very over written and melodramatic so I guess it probably fits. It
feels bad to give it a poor review because I don't doubt the author was very invested in the story that is inspired by true events from his own life. Sadly though the main character, Eli, feels very two dimensional and his brother August is an oh so saintly and preternaturally wise child, the type that can only exist in overwrought literature.

9 people found this helpful