Welcome to the final week of our 12 week #isolationreading challenge! Yes, it’s been a busy time devouring 12 books in 12 weeks but I’ve loved every minute of it! We will be taking a break from bookclub for 3 weeks and then resuming after the school holidays in early August. My intense reading program has created domestic chaos in my house so I’ll need the next 3 weeks to recover!!

The lovely Jules

In this episode of the bookclub, I will be workshopping the incredible Boy Swallows Universe by Aussie author Trent Dalton with my super smart editor friend Jules Collard.

This book is part survival, part coming of age story that is exhilarating, funny and heartbreaking.

Boy Swallows Universe is Trent Dalton’s debut novel and is described as a 50/50 mix of fact and fiction by the author. Set in the outer Brisbane suburbs in the 80’s, this book is the story of Eli and August Bell’s life with a heroin dealer as a stepdad, notorious criminal as a babysitter and a mum in jail.

Trent wanted to write a book for the kids of Brisbane’s Bracken Ridge much like Dickens wrote about the poor kids of London. He wanted them to know that there is hope and that in fact, the world

Why Did We Read This Book?

– Boy Swallows Universe is the fastest selling Australian fiction debut since Nielsen BookScan records began. It sold 200,000 copies in Australia in 72 weeks.

-In 2019, it became became the first book to ever win four prizes at the Australian Book Industry awards in May 2019. It was also awarded book of the year at the Indie book awards, won at the MUD literary prize and the NSW premier’s literary awards, and was longlisted for the Miles Franklin earlier this week.

– It is being adapted into a TV show with acclaimed Aussie actor, writer and director Joel Edgerton as producer.

– The reviews have been incredible: ‘the best Australian novel I have read in more than a decade’ Sydney Morning Herald and ‘Astonishing, captivating … a wild, beautiful, heart-exploding ride’ Elizabeth Gilbert

-The Queensland Theatre company have adapted it into a play which will ow open in 2021 – delayed due to COVID.

About The Author

Trent Dalton writes for The Weekend Australian Magazine. A former assistant editor of The Courier-Mail, he has won two Walkley awards, been a four time winner of the News Awards Feature Journalist of the Year Award, and was named Queensland Journalist of the Year at the 2011 Clarion Awards for excellence in Queensland media. He has also written screenplays including Glenn Owen Dodds in 2010 and Home in 2011.

The book is semi autobiographical. In an interview, he describes the book as being ‘fiction but it’s emotionally true.’

Nonetheless, he did have a stepdad who was a career criminal, he was babysat by Slim Halliday – a notorious criminal and he displayed incredible resilience in navigating his way through a complex and sometimes treacherous childhood and early life

The Verdict

Alex and Jules both considered this book to be outstanding. They would both recommend it. You can listen to the podcast via your favourite podcast app, or by clicking on the link below.


Happy listening

Alex x