Press Room

Boy Swallows Universe becomes #1 bestseller


On the back of a record-breaking four-prize win at the Australian Book Industry Awards, Australian author Trent Dalton’s bestselling debut novel Boy Swallows Universe has catapulted to Australia’s official number 1 book overall, and number 1 fiction book, as measured by Nielsen BookScan. Published in July 2018, Boy Swallows Universe has now sold over 160,000 copies in Australia across all formats and has been awarded several of Australia’s top literary awards, including Book of the Year at both the Australian Book Industry Awards and the Indie Book Awards, the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for New Writer and People’s
Choice Award, and the MUD Literary Prize.

Rights to Boy Swallows Universe have been sold to 34 English language and translation territories and announcements about theatre and screen rights will be made shortly. Julie Winters, General Manager for Nielsen Book Pacific said, ‘It is heartening to see Boy Swallows Universe shift to the top of the charts on the back of strong bookseller support and critical acclaim, proving there is room for debut Australian fiction at the top of the Nielsen BookScan bestseller charts.’

James Kellow, HarperCollins Australia CEO said, ‘It’s rare for an Australian fiction debut to reach number one – so it speaks volumes about the affection readers feel for our young hero, Eli Bell, and his creator, Trent Dalton. Boy Swallows Universe looks set to become a new Australian classic.’


Boy Swallows Universe is a captivating coming-of-age story set in Brisbane’s violent working-class suburban fringe, inspired by the real-life events of journalist Trent Dalton’s complicated youth. It tells the story of twelve-year-old Eli Bell, who finds comfort in his extraordinary imagination as a means of escaping from his challenging life with a mute brother, a mother in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. Surrounded by chaos and with very little moral guidance from the adults around him, Eli sets out on an ambitious suburban odyssey that sees him meet the father he doesn’t remember, break into Boggo Road Gaol 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.

At its core, Boy Swallows Universe is a story of brotherhood and the spark of young love; it’s also the unlikely true story of the formative friendship Dalton shared with Arthur ‘Slim’ Halliday, the greatest escape artist ever confined to Brisbane’s Boggo Road Gaol.

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 bestselling debut novel, Boy Swallows Universe, is being published across 34 English language and translation territories.

For more information or interview requests please contact Alice Wood at HarperCollins:
[email protected] / +61 422 496 79


May 16, 2019


Boy Swallows Universe becomes #1 bestseller