Culture / TV

‘Boy Swallows Universe’ has finally landed on Netflix – so cancel your plans tonight

boy swallows universe

Is there a single person in this country who has not read Trent Dalton's Boy Swallows Universe? Even those who manage one book a year during the Christmas holidays chose this Australian best-seller above others. Published in 2018, Dalton's debut novel about coming-of-age in 1980s Brisbane amidst drug-dealers and criminals tugged on people's heartstrings and ripped them apart in equal measure. And now, Eli Bell's story is getting refashioned for television with an outsized cast to match, thanks to Netflix.

boy swallows universe

What is Boy Swallows Universe About?

Part fiction, part autobiography, Boy Swallows Universe opens with 12-year-old Eli Bell who, although still a child, is street smart and observant. Furnishing the tale with pieces from his own tumultuous upbringing, Dalton writes of Eli Bell, who lives in gritty 80s working class Brisbane. His mother is an addict and his second-tier heroin dealing stepfather is no good. Then there's Slim, a notorious felon and something of a father-figure to Eli and his mute older brother Gus. The book is essentially a crime novel, but it's also about coming-of-age, first love and brotherhood too, with a streak of magical realism thrown in for good measure.

boy swallows universe

Who has been cast?

An Australian novel needs the perfect Australian cast and it certainly looks like Netflix has found it. Tapped for the role of brothers Eli and Gus is Felix Cameron and Lee Tiger Halley. Phoebe Tonkin has secured the role of the boys' mother Frankie, while Travis Fimmel who played Ragnar in Vikings is onboard as heroin-dealing stepfather Lyle Orlik.

Simon Baker will star as Eli's absent father Robert Bell, meanwhile icons of Australian cinema Bryan Brown, Anthony LaPaglia and Deborah Mailman are set to star in the series too. Sophie Wilde, who we loved in Eden and A24 horror Talk To Me will also feature in the adaptation.

Is there a release date?

Boy Swallows Universe will premiere on Netflix on January 11, 2024.

boy swallows universe

Where can I watch the trailer for Boy Swallows Universe?

We've made it easy for you. See it below.

Stay inspired, follow us.