cover image The Shepherd’s Hut

The Shepherd’s Hut

Tim Winton. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-26232-7

The latest from Winton (Breath) is a mournful and fast-paced journey into the life of a young man on his own. Left by himself after the death of his violent, hateful father, teenager Jaxie Clackton sets out deep into the empty saltlands of Western Australia, searching for peace and solitude. As he heads slowly north, intending to return to the only person who’s ever loved him, he hunts kangaroo and stays away from the highways, carrying little but his rifle, water bottle, and binoculars. But soon Jaxie meets exiled Irish Catholic priest Fintan MacGillis. He must decide if he can trust MacGillis’s offer of rest and help—and then whether he will continue on to his original destination. The two fall into a rhythm, and possibly a friendship, until they discover something dangerous in the desert that threatens their safety. Winton’s novel is alive with pain and suffering, but it is also full of moments of grace and small acts of kindness. Gorgeously written and taut with eloquent, edgy suspense, Jaxie’s journey is a portrait of young manhood amidst extreme conditions, both inward and outward. (June)