THE SHEPHERD'S HUT
BY TIM WINTON
‘The Shepherd’s Hut’ by Tim Winton is a story of a young man’s survival in the arid vast saltlands of Western Australia. A raw, original and powerful wild card choice and a novel that will get under your skin from the outset. Some books never leave you and this is one.
Described as a feral rat-bag, Jaxie Clackton is fifteen and on the run leading him to the barren wilderness of Western Australia. Written in the first person, the reader has nowhere to hide in this story of survival in a landscape where he is in the most part alone, hoping to reach the next town which becomes a treacherous journey on foot with very few provisions and kit to keep him alive.
When the reader first meets Jaxie he is living with his abusive alcoholic father. Then one day he returns home to find his father dead. In an instant he realises he must run. This is also a coming of age story and it is an original addictive read that has a strangle hold on its readers from start to finish. There is a roughness of language, a strange vernacular that at times is challenging, at other times poetic. On his journey he meets an Irish priest, Fintan MacGillis who is also an outlaw and seeking penance in his wilderness. An unlikely friendship blossoms and through Fintan we discover a kinder heart and spirit in Jaxie.
Having a troubled upbringing and not much of an education makes this all the more powerful. The reader is consumed by Jaxie’s wilderness but also in two minds about his destination - to meet his sweetheart Lee in the next town. The descriptions of the landscape take centre stage in the novel making this a mesmerising and compelling story that won’t leave you. The Den were swept away by the all-consuming nature of the narrative.
Special thanks to one of our Den readers for recommending this novel, we always love suggestions and this was a truly gripping read. Wild and raw.