6 Books to Read If You Loved 'Boy Swallows Universe'
If you are a fan of books in any way, there's a high chance you'll have read Trent Dalton's Boy Swallows Universe, the extraordinary story about love, crime, magic, fate, coming of age, and a young boy called Eli. Set in Brisbane's working-class suburban fringe, Boy Swallows Universe was an instant bestseller, and propelled its author, Trent Dalton, to almost immediate stardom. It not only became the first book to ever win four prizes at the Australian Book Industry awards, it too was awarded book of the year at the Indie book awards, won both the MUD literary prize and the NSW premier's literary awards, and was longlisted for the Miles Franklin award.
It comes as no surprise, then, that Dalton's follow-up, the eagerly awaited All Our Shimmering Skies, is set to be one of 2020's literary sensations. While initially due for publication in June, it's now being released at the end of September, and we can assure you that it is well worth the wait.
And if you're looking for a book to plug the whole that Boy Swallows Universe left behind, we've curated a list of novels that will do just that. From a powerful debut to an exceptional tale by one of Australia's most captivating storytellers, here are six books to read if you couldn't get enough of Boy Swallows Universe.
Cited by readers across Australia as one of the country's finest literary exports, Sofie Laguna's The Eye of the Sheep is her most critically acclaimed novel to date – it was shortlisted for the Stella prize and won the Miles Franklin Literary Award. Known and loved for her nuanced storytelling, in The Eye of the Sheep Laguna tells a unique and exceptional story that stays with the reader long after its final page. Original and poignant in equal measure, The Eye of the Sheep explores themes of abuse, love and humanity. Told with empathy, this story has a wonderfully redemptive ending. The Eye of the Sheep is one of Australian literature's most powerful books.
The first novel by English-born Australian author, Pip Williams, The Dictionary of Lost Words is about how the word "bondmaid" was stolen from the Oxford English Dictionary. Set when the women's suffrage movement was at its height and the Great War loomed, The Dictionary of Lost Words is populated with a colourful cast of characters, and through her captivating storytelling and rich prose, Williams deftly demonstrates the power of words. A book with extensive research woven into each page, it's a story that will appeal to anyone with an interest in language and literature. The Dictionary of Lost Words is a lyrical, deeply thought-provoking, unmissable debut from Williams.
This book is rich with Dalton's signature playfulness, warmth and passion, if you loved Boy Swallows Universe (and, let's face it, who didn't?) you're in for the best sort of literary treat with All Our Shimmering Skies. Because while it's an entirely different book to his much-loved debut, fans of Boy Swallows Universe will delight in the fantastical nature of All Our Shimmering Skies; fiction is fused with fantasy in this tale of good versus evil. Beautifully descriptive, utterly breathtaking and the sort of book you want to read in a single sitting, All Our Shimmering Skies is everything and more fans of Boy Swallows Universe have been waiting for.
A spellbinding debut whose film rights have been snapped up by none other than Hollywood starlet Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a tale loved by bookworms far and wide. Beautifully written and entirely unputdownable, Gail Honeyman's debut won the 2017 Costa Debut Novel Award and focuses on 29-year-old Eleanor Oliphant, a social misfit with a traumatic past who becomes enamoured with a singer, whom she believes she is destined to be with. A powerful and irresistible story about secrets, memories, trauma and healing, this unforgettable book is a real literary tour de force.
Better known for his non-fiction writing, Liam Pieper has been ambitious with The Toymaker. This novel contrasts modern day Melbourne with the death camps of World War II, linking two vastly different settings through Arkady Kulakov, a Holocaust survivor and now the owner of a successful toy manufacturing empire. An epic tale that pushes the reader's moral boundaries, The Toymaker is at times bleak and utterly heartbreaking but ultimately redemptive. Pieper deals with some seriously heavy content here, it all unfurling slowly and in surprising and complex ways. Bold, dark and compelling, The Toymaker is a novel about privilege, fear and the harm we can do when we're afraid of losing what we have.
A searing, electrifying debut novel set in India and America, about a once-in-a-lifetime friendship between two girls who are driven apart but never stop trying to find one another again, Girls Burn Brighter will appeal to readers the world over. A book to savour from the very first page, at the heart of this story is the purest of friendships between two girls, joined by their craft of spinning cotton and growing up in a quiet village in India. Poornima and Savitha face many difficult times as their lives tumble apart: arranged marriages, dowries, suspicious in-laws, the horrors of human trafficking, and domestic abuse but remain steadfast friends throughout. The writing is evocative and filled with descriptions of the vivid landscapes that contrast beautifully with the heart-rending events these friends were subjected to. The author cleverly uses the symbolism of fire throughout the book, to explore themes of strength, vitality and resilience. Utterly unmissable.