Boy Swallows Universe

2019 - Winner


Judges' comments

A boy who doesn’t speak, but writes in the air. His brother who can read him, but not always understand him. The mother who loves them but has troubles of her own. The notorious criminal who comes into their lives. Suburban Brisbane, ‘a dream, a stench, a spilt garbage bin, a cracked mirror, a paradise’. 

From the crucial, enigmatic opening words, ‘Your end is a dead blue wren’, to the end more than 500 pages later, Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe is an extraordinary debut novel, a coming of age story that is full of colour, movement and characters — desirable and undesirable — yet also withholding, ambiguous, impossible to pin down, as is real life.