The Shepherd's Hut
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The Shepherd's Hut

4.11 (4,843 ratings by Goodreads)
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'A page-turning heartbreaker' Emma Donoghue, author of Room

For years Jaxie Clackton has dreaded going home. His beloved mum is dead, and he wishes his dad was too, until one terrible moment leaves his life stripped to nothing. No one ever told Jaxie Clackton to be careful what he wishes for.

And so Jaxie runs. There's just one person in the world who understands him, but to reach her he'll have to cross the vast saltlands of Western Australia. It is a place that harbours criminals and threatens to kill those who haven't reckoned with its hot, waterless vastness. This is a journey only a dreamer - or a fugitive - would attempt.

Fierce and lyrical, The Shepherd's Hut by Tim Winton is a story of survival, solitude and unlikely friendship. Most of all it is about what it takes to keep hope alive in a parched and brutal world.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 130 x 196 x 25mm | 210g
  • PICADOR
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main Market Ed.
  • 1509863842
  • 9781509863846
  • 2,416

Review Text

It may be that this is his best book yet . . . triumphantly good . . . blisteringly original The Times
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Review quote

Compelling and moving * New Statesman * Quite why this chewy slab of literary fiction didn't make the Man Booker long list is a mystery . . . A visceral meditation on faith, salvation and guilt, delivered with the hard-boiled brio of a western * Metro * There are no wasted words and there's no literary meandering on the way to "the point". This is freestyle, no-crash-helmet prose -- Paul Robinson * Qantas * Tim Winton really is one of Australian literature's great tenebrists, a master of forced intensities of light and shadow and a connoisseur of images that linger in the mind like obscure portents. -- JR * The Saturday Paper * Winton's achievement in these pages is a piece with his larger fictional project. He seeks to re-enchant the world, and to provide, via the essentially sceptical machinery of literature, a sense of secular communion. -- Geordie Williamson * Weekend Australian Review * The Shepherd's Hut has a grittiness that fills your mouth, eyes and nostrils. This reviewer devoured it mostly in one sitting, but the story lingers on. If only for a bit longer with Jaxie. Verdict: A masterstroke. -- Shelley Hadfield * Herald Sun * Jaxie is destined to be a new Aussie literary hero. Tim Winton is a modern-day master; he seems to be able to produce gem after gem that remain in the reader's consciousness long after the last page. -- Scot Whitmont * Books + Publishing * Austere, beautiful and compelling. It has a subtle moral clarity that stands out even in a career that has relentlessly searched for the gold hidden in human rubble....After three readings it is still yielding the riches of its unblinking vision of hope, a vision that will renew readers for generations to come. -- Michael McGirr * The Age, The Canberra Times * It is a story of redemption, but one in which the author and his characters stare unblinkingly at the human animal - redeemed not in spite of its animality but through it....this is a very beautiful novel -- Richard King * The Monthly * This novel charms with its intense evocation of one of the most landlocked stretches of WA....Winton sets one of his most moving and memorable explorations of father/son relationships in the interaction between a teenage Jaxie Clackton and an elderly Irish priest....In a lifetime of fine literary achievements The Shepherd's Hut is likely to be recognized as one of Winton's deepest and most memorable. -- Katherine England * The Advertiser * Jaxie tells the story in a laconic, unshockable voice that is varied by some remembered dialogue. The novel is an Antipodean Huckleberry Finn...its narrative makes The Shepherd's Hut a powerful experience. -- Brenda Niall * Australian Book Review * It is so powered by elemental forces, by a kind of wild poetry, that it soars into the literary stratosphere and into the human heart as if it were itself an arrow of light....the author introduces a plot twist so terrifying the book should have come with a warning....And in Jaxie Clackton, Winton seems to have reached deep into the landscape to breathe life into a character who is timeless as he is timely....The Shepherd's Hut assails the senses. -- Bron Sibree * South China Morning Post * Winton wraps up his tale with some heightened tension and visceral thrills. Far more gripping, though, is Jaxie's full-bodied narrative voice, which is the driving force of the novel....Winton is a master ventriloquist of Australian vernacular....Jaxie is a captivating hero....Winton has triumphed again. This is a terrifying, electrifying novel charged by a singular voice and expert storytelling. -- Malcom Forbes * Star Tribune * 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, edge suspense, Jaxie's journey is a portrait of young manhood amidst extreme conditions, both inward and outward. * Publishers Weekly * He has carved a voice that is uniquely Australian, finding poetry and an austere beauty in local vernacular and landscape....A fable about acceptance and forgiveness, teenager Jaxie Clackton is a victim of domestic violence in a desperate quest that mirrors both "Huckleberry Finn" and the knights from the tales of King Arthur, he must overcome physical deprivation to reach the girl he loves. Along the way, he finds a different intimacy: friendship with exiled Irish priest Fintan MacGillis who lives in a shepherd's hut with only the kangaroos for company. -- Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore * The New York Times * Winton thrusts the reader into the barren and unforgiving salt land in Western Australia. With the author's intimate knowledge of the harsh landscape, it serves as a catalyst for action. Jaxie's distinctive, gritty language renders his story visceral, and an absolute thrill to read. -- Michael Ruzicka * Booklist * A fast-paced noir-ish outback crime thriller by a writer who in the reading of his fiction seems capable of anything....he writes with extraordinary pace and economy as well as an acute ear for the Australian vernacular....The Shepherd's Hut moves with a kinetic garishness akin to a Mad Max film and is the compelling work of a novelist who has mastered his craft. * Irish Independent * Winton's story is worthy of a Peckinpah film - and splendidly written, if disturbing to the core. * Kirkus * The Shepherd's Hut is a thrilling and thought-provoking novel, rooted in both the internal and physical worlds, in the perils of the present and the weight of history, in questions of identity, faith and nature. While at times shockingly violent, and frequently ugly, it also contains, at its heart, a sense of hope, of grace. -- Robert Wiersema * Toronto Star * Think The Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple, Portnoy's Complaint, Jane Eyre, or Lolita. The Shepherd's Hut....belongs to that group of novels remarkable for their narrator's voice....Winton's prose - and storyline - is reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy's. His nimble sentences wield an irresistible power that seems like literary legerdemain. Jaxie's peripatetic tale is harrowing, though humorous in places, and a coming of age saga like no other....the slow burn of the opening chapters changes to a high-octane thriller....is as powerful as anything he has ever written....Young Jaxie Clackton - you'll want to follow him anywhere, even into the burning hell of his self-imposed expatriation. -- Corey Mesler * The Memphis Flyer * As in all of Winton's work - there is a profound note of spirituality running throughout this book. In Australian writing, the most appropriate comparison is perhaps with Voss, Patrick White's great novel of spiritual hunger and desolation . . . Winton has created two models of masculinity in The Shepherd's Hut. The one is brutal and to all intents and purposes incoherent; it uses fist and belt to express rage; and it has the backing of society into the bargain. But Jaxie himself is a poet of sorts, in spite of his taciturn ways: his idiom is lyrical; and his life is a search for a different expression of how a man might live -- Neil Hegarty * Irish Times * A sense of place dominates The Shepherd's Hut . . . Winton's descriptive energy makes its topography seem not exotic and other, but vividly present. The novel builds like a thriller, or more precisely like an Australian western . . . reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy's The Road . . . a parable of the rites of passage from boyhood to manhood conducted in the implacable hinterland of the Australian interior . . . The Shepherd's Hut is the equivalent of land art. -- Ludovic Hunter-Tilney * FT Weekend * Tense, compassionate and profound . . . the language of Tim Winton's mesmerizing new novel is double-distilled: Fintan speaks a honeyed melody while Jaxie's is craw-bunged, staccato, gleefully sprung with beauty and vitality . . . The Shepherd's Hut is a story of seeing and being seen, of sight and insight. -- Jay Griffiths * Times Literary Supplement * In language so tangy it feels almost edible, Winton tells the story of young Jaxie Clackton, on the run across Australia, who finds an all-too-brief salvation in a short-lived friendship with a reclusive priest. Cosmic themes intermingle with an old-fashioned adventure yarn, delivered in prose of the highest order. * Daily Mail * A modern Australian Huckleberry Finn, in which a desperate teenager embarks on a gruelling trek. * The Times, The 100 best books to read this summer * Clackton is an absolutely wonderful creation, with . . . a voice as hardscrabble and jagged as the bush itself . . . an uncompromising novel that's as tender as it is savage * Daily Mail * A distinctly Down Under story by this most Australian writer . . . Winton still remains in Western Australia, where he was born, and that long experience with the place and the language is baked deep into his prose . . . here's survivalist fiction at its rawest from a novelist who sometimes sounds as bleak as our own Cormac McCarthy . . . But this tale of tooth and claw is deepened by Jaxie's abiding dignity. Fear of capture isn't really pushing him across these hundreds of miles so much as his determination to reach a young woman he loves -- Ron Charles * Washington Post * Exploring ideas of masculinity, exile and hope, The Shepherd's Hut is a wise and compassionate novel, demonstrating Winton's deep engagement with issues of moral complexity * Observer * A tour de force . . . what makes this lonely romp so technically impressive is that Winton manages to maintain the tension, while Jaxie's musings are punctuated with flashes of demotic poetry . . . The book's conclusion, looping back to its opening, is beautifully poised. 'Change is slow and hope is violent' reads the epigraph to The Shepherd's Hut. It certainly turns out to be so in this novel. But there is hope none the less, not just for Jaxie but for some kind of understanding and empathy across generations, and for that Winton makes us very grateful. * Literary Review * A voice that shaves to the bone and then keeps going. Wonderful. -- Alan McMonagle, author of Ithaca Describes the chaotic struggle of new masculinity better than anything else I've read. As an exploration of the intergenerational trauma that plagues men, it couldn't be more timely. Seriously, it's incredible -- Ben Quilty A masterpiece from a masterful storyteller. We have not seen many people like Jaxie in Australian literature. When reading this book I wondered if Winton had actually found someone like Jaxie and had simply recorded him telling his incredible story. This is the magic of this book. The voice is so authentic and the language of this young character rings true to the people I have met throughout my life. I will not forget this book -- Alexis Wright, author of Carpentaria Shot through with the breathtaking evocation of landscape that is Winton's forte, The Shepherd's Hut is a hymn to the wild forces of nature and unsentimental belonging. Winton's enviable ability to elicit passion for Jaxie through his immaculate, poetic and troubled rush of vernacular-no matter how terrible Jaxie's actions-is broken, beautiful and ugly in all the best ways. -- Ray Robinson, author of Electricity A richly compassionate work, deeply informed by Winton's poetic genius -- Alex Miller, author of Journey to the Stone Country Tim Winton's Jaxie Clackton brings to mind the voices of other great survivors in literature, such as Huckleberry Finn and Oliver Twist, who struggle against impossible odds with pluck, common sense, and a refreshingly keen command of the vernacular. Once you start reading this book, you won't want to put it down. A powerful, most compelling story -- Brad Watson, author of Miss Jane Winton is, as always, a superb painter of Australian space. He takes this drear landscape and invests it with what can only be described as majesty . . . Winton's achievement in these pages is of a piece with his larger fictional project. He seeks to re-enchant the world, and to provide, via the essentially sceptical machinery of literature, a sense of secular communion. A novel is not a church, and Winton is not a preacher. But he is a voice of sanity and his art is tuned to the possibility of care, even grace * Australian * Landscape and destiny are inextricable in Tim Winton's latest novel, and the result is a gritty realism that ultimately propels the story into the timelessness of a parable. All that I love about Winton's work is here: the poetry of the colloquial, fully realized characters, and the fearlessness to enter the deepest mysteries of being. The Shepherd's Hut is a brilliant reminder that Winton is one of the world's great living novelists. -- Ron Rash, author of Serena A fierce, pungent, slangy, humdinger of a book, with a real kick in the tail. Fiction doesn't get much better than this -- Rupert Thomson, author of Divided Kingdom Superb. It's rare to feel fury and hope on the surface of the skin at the same time, and more rare to find that convincing in a story -- Cynan Jones, author of Cove Searing, ardent and deeply empathetic . . . Jaxie Clackton, plangent and profane, is destined to become one of the greatest characters in Australian literature -- Geraldine Brooks, author of Year of Wonders A novel that reminds us what fiction can do. Here is a voice that digs into your viscera and changes you from the inside -- Ross Raisin, author of God's Own Country A master novelist at the very peak of their craft. Full of heart and life and beauty -- Evie Wyld, author of All The Birds, Singing A transfixing performance -- Philip Hensher, Books of the Year, Spectator Winton's novel is layered, lyrical and intense . . . unforgettable . . . heartstopping * Mail on Sunday * Remarkable . . . astonishing . . . extraordinary . . . Winton has written a novel which - and I can have no higher praise - I wish to re-read . . . it is clever, canny and complex * Scotland on Sunday * Raw, brutal and merciless . . . Holden Caulfield, you have been eclipsed * Spectator * Wonderful. Brutal, agonizing, tender -- Sarah Winman, author of When God Was a Rabbit and Tin Man Exhilarating, compelling . . . elegiac, transcendent * Guardian * Outstanding . . . compulsively suspenseful . . . dazzlingly good -- Peter Kemp * Sunday Times * A page-turning heartbreaker -- Emma Donoghue, author of Room It may be that this is his best book yet . . . triumphantly good . . . blisteringly original * The Times *
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About Tim Winton

Tim Winton has published twenty-nine books for adults and children, and his work has been translated into twenty-eight languages. Since his first novel, An Open Swimmer, won the Australian/Vogel Award in 1981, he has won the Miles Franklin Award four times (for Shallows, Cloudstreet, Dirt Music and Breath) and twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize (for The Riders and Dirt Music). Active in the environmental movement, he is the Patron of the Australian Marine Conservation Society. He lives in Western Australia.
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Rating details

4,843 ratings
4.11 out of 5 stars
5 39% (1,874)
4 40% (1,950)
3 17% (805)
2 3% (151)
1 1% (63)
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