Boy Swallows Universe

2019 - Shortlisted

Shortlisted

Judges' Comments 

Boy Swallows Universe is journalist Trent Dalton’s critically and popularly acclaimed debut novel.  It’s hardboiled Brisbane noir coming of age meth-soaked magical realism, a genre-defying cocktail that should be undrinkable, but is both satisfying and sweet.

Eli Bell is growing up too fast, trying to catch his innocence in the rear-view mirror of a life populated by junkies, dealers, mystic mutes, alcoholic TV quiz whizzes, wannabe samurais, Samaritan bikies, philosopher maybe-murders, limb fetishists, cold-eyed llama farmers and bluebirds of prophecy.  He is sustained by the love of a brother, mother, father (and father surrogates) and a woman he will one day meet.

Dalton drew on his own disrupted childhood, his mother’s overcoming of adversity, and his experience as a journalist in writing Boy Swallows Universe – and the truth that underpins the work makes its surrealist elements seem real. Witty dialogue punctuates absurdist whimsy. Black comedy is highlighted by lighter touches. Grotesques deliver cracking one-liners. Although this story of the power of love in life’s struggle towards the light is not defined by its humour, its humour shines through.

About the Author

Trent Dalton

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 four-time winner of a Kennedy Award for Excellence in NSW Journalism and a four-time winner of the national News Awards Features Journalist of the Year. His debut novel, Boy Swallows Universe, was recently awarded the 2019 Indie Book of the Year Award and the MUD Literary Prize, it has also been shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Awards and the Australian Book Industry Awards. Published in Australia in mid-2018, Boy Swallows Universe will be published across 34 English language and translation territories over the coming year.