Australian journalist's 'captivating' debut snapped up for HC's global programme

Australian journalist's 'captivating' debut snapped up for HC's global programme

A “captivating coming-of-age” debut from an Australian journalist will be published by Borough Press as part of the HarperCollins Global Publishing Program.

Jonathan Burnham, president and publisher at Harper US, and Suzie Dooré, publishing director at the Borough Press, have jointly acquired Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton.

The debut was released last month by HarperCollins Australia (cover pictured below) and will be published in the English language and across 12 other languages in a coordinated global release, which is currently slated for 2019. The “brave, quirky novel” has drawn comparisons to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (Penguin Random House) and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Picador).

It is the first time an Australian author has been picked up in the HarperCollins Global Publishing Program. Other authors published as part of this program include Daniel Silva, Karin Slaughter and Don Winslow.

Boy Swallows Universe is described by a Borough Press spokesperson as "a captivating coming-of-age story set in Brisbane’s violent working-class suburban fringe" inspired by the real-life events of Dalton’s youth. It tells the story of 13-year-old Eli Bell, who finds comfort in his extraordinary imagination as a means of escaping from his complicated life with a mute brother, a mother in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious criminal for a babysitter.

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 three-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. 

Burnham said: “Once in a publishing blue moon, a novel comes along which stakes out a very special space for itself. It’s usually non-conformist and brave. It breaks the usual templates and creates new rules. And it’s usually a huge bestseller. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius among others… it’s a short but powerful list. Boy Swallows Universe falls into this canon. It’s moving, brilliant, quirky, funny, haunting, and opens up new horizons.”

Dooré said: “Trent has a truly unique voice, and I am really excited to be publishing him in the UK, alongside our HarperCollins cousins around the world. In the four years since it launched with the Costa‐winning The Shock of The Fall, The Borough Press has established itself as a hugely exciting home for fresh new voices bringing incredible stories to life, and books like Joanna Cannon’s bestselling The Trouble with Goats and Sheep have proven that the team really know how to make a debut fly.

“I can’t wait to introduce Eli and Gus to UK readers.”

James Kellow, HarperCollins Australia c.e.o., added: “Boy Swallows Universe is a glorious, original and uniquely Australian piece of storytelling.

"We’re convinced it heralds the arrival of a major new voice in the Australian market, and we’re delighted to see our sister companies around the world also embracing Trent’s story with such enthusiasm, commitment and belief.”