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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, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. It's not as if Eli's life isn't complicated enough already. He's just trying to follow his heart, learning what it takes to be a good man, but life just keeps throwing obstacles in the way - not least of which is Tytus Broz, legendary Brisbane drug dealer.

But Eli's life is about to get a whole lot more serious. He's about to fall in love. And, oh yeah, he has to break into Boggo Road Gaol 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.

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, 
  • Long listed 2019 Colin Roderick Award, shortlist

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)

"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)

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

Critic Reviews

"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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Brilliant!

Brilliantly written, flawless performance, a little challenging to continue listening to on occasion but absolutely worthwhile continuing to the end.

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Remarkable classic of Australian culture

This book is perfection. Just get it. Seriously. It’s impossible to describe and the plot isn’t really the point. The writing is breathtaking and the characters will become friends. Just get it. I miss it already and I only just finished it.

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Book Swallows Reader

Loved this book. Narrator was very believable as the different characters. Plot gradually built until it was hard to put down! Thoroughly recommend this book and I'm keen to look at others by this author.

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The reader destroyed this novel for me

In over 10 years of listening to audible novels, including many that have children as the protagonist, I have never had to listen to such an amateur reader. It was as though he never, for a moment, considered the character or the meaningful the story. So disappointing

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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.

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.

15 people found this helpful

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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.

26 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.

11 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.

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

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  • doobowa
  • 09-25-19

Manic Pixy Drool: (review only of early chapters)

I admit freely in the title I didn't give it much of a go.

That is because have never read/listened to a book that was so sopping wet over its characters so early on. It doesn't bother to really introduce who they are, only that they're impossibly twee enigmas.

Example:

POV character comments on how his brother, who are both young kids, would regularly stare into the mirror for long periods of time.
POV character continually asks his brother: 'you found it yet?'
POV character's brother regularly says nothing until he says something cryptic.

This is not developed over the course of the story, this subplot of navel gazing (go figure) is contained within a few paragraphs in the first bits of the book to establish this waifish old-soul. In fact I'm almost certain the term old soul is used here, but only once. I bet that took every ounce of restraint the author had.

God.

I don't have anything against YA, truly, some of my favourite books I've read over this last year were those by Becky Chambers and Angie Thomas but jeez this book was absolutely salivating over its own characters straight out of the gate.

The performance wasn't bad in technical terms, but the characterisation was. Which obviously the voice reading has to channel otherwise what's the point?
I don't want to knock someone for doing the job they were given.

Allow me some time to catch up at least, don't show up to my house half in the bag, author.

8 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.

8 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!

8 people found this helpful

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  • Darren
  • 02-03-19

Listen to it, you'll love it.

This has got to be the best audio book I've listened to. The narrator encapsulates the characters, era, location and demographics perfectly.

The story holds and grabs you throughout every bizarre turn in a hilarious roller coaster that is the life of Eli Bell.

7 people found this helpful