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A rifle-shot of a novel – crisp, fast, shocking – The Shepherd’s Hut is an urgent masterpiece about solitude, unlikely friendship, and the raw business of survival.

Jaxie dreads going home. His mum’s dead. The old man bashes him without mercy, and he wishes he was an orphan. But no one’s ever told Jaxie Clackton to be careful what he wishes for.

In one terrible moment his life is stripped to little more than what he can carry and how he can keep himself alive. There’s just one person left in the world who understands him and what he still dares to hope for. But to reach her he’ll have to cross the vast saltlands on a trek that only a dreamer or a fugitive would attempt.

The Shepherd’s Hut is a searing look at what it takes to keep love and hope alive in a parched and brutal world.

Website

Learn more about the book and visit theshepherdshut.com.au

Reviews

I will never be able to unhear the voice of young Jaxie Clackton, plangent and profane, who is destined to become one of the greatest characters in Australian literature.

Geraldine Brooks

A brilliant reminder that Winton is one of the world’s great living novelists.

Ron Rash

A richly compassionate work, deeply informed by Winton’s poetic genius.

Alex Miller

A masterpiece from a masterful storyteller.

Alexis Wright

Seriously, it's incredible.

Ben Quilty

It's beyond belief sensational. It's so Australian you almost have to read it with your mouth shut in case the flies blow in.

Mem Fox

There is music in this brilliant and uncomfortable book . . . a landmark book in Winton’s career: 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, The Shepherd’s Hut was still yielding the riches of its unblinking vision of hope, a vision that will renew readers for generations to come.

Michael McGirr, The Age

Even a regular Tim Winton novel – if such a thing exists – would knock most other novels into a cocked hat, but The Shepherd’s Hut is Winton at the top of his game, and that’s saying something. 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

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. In Jaxie’s own words, ‘you know someone’s special when you never get enough of them.

Scott Whitmont, Books & Publishing

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

The Shepherd’s Hut is wonderful. Brutal, agonising, tender. Ultimately, it’s a story of redemption and hope.

Sarah Winman

The most concentrated iteration yet of some of Winton’s enduring concerns. The relationship between sons and fathers, between young men and father figures . . . What is it, he asks, over and over, to be a man in the Australian context? And how is a masculine ideal transmitted between generations, or else corrupted in the passing on? . . . A story of self-discovery and adolescent adventure takes on the aspect of a drama of belief: belief in the possibility of human decency . . . If God is a verb, Winton tantalisingly suggests, we can be angels if we choose.

Geordie Williamson, The Australian

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.

Katharine England, The Advertiser (Adelaide)

The closest thing [Winton] has written to a full-dress action-adventure thriller . . . A gritty tale of survival and almost biblical self-revelation . . . Twisted in all sorts of comic and sinister ways.

The Saturday Paper

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 . . . A masterstroke.

Shelley Hadfield, The Herald Sun

Winton is such a master of voice . . . This is a very beautiful novel – a vision of the Incarnation set among samphire and saltbush.

Richard King, The Monthly

Masterful . . . This book is set to be an Australian classic. . . We come to Tim Winton because there is always something true in what he writes – a truth that can’t be blurted out or rolled into a neat little aphorism, but has to be felt or experienced through the telling. He is Australia’s truth teller.

John Purcell, nine.com.au

Tim Winton slots us right inside the volatile teenage brain of his narrator . . . This is freestyle, no-crash-helmet prose that is as refreshing as sincerity from a politician.

Paul Robinson, Qantas Magazine

[Winton] is a voice of sanity and his art is tuned to the possibility of care, even grace.

The Weekend Australian

One of his best.

Woman’s Day

A mournful and fast-paced journey into the life of a young man on his own . . . 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.

Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

Classic Winton.

GQ

Winton thrusts the reader into the barren and unforgiving salt land in western Australia . . . An absolute thrill to read.

Booklist

What a peculiar, disorientating and astonishing novel this is . . . [It] starts like an Australian version of Catcher in the Rye . . . By the end we are far more in Cormac McCarthy territory . . . The camber of the sentences becomes a wonder of its own. It is rare to say that nobody else could write a novel such as this . . . The book wheels, just as the moon does, through senses . . . It is clever, canny and complex . . . Then there is the question of the ending. You won’t see it coming.

Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

Outstanding . . . Tim Winton strikes gold again in this tale of an Australian Huckleberry Finn . . . Compulsively suspenseful . . . Dazzlingly good at depicting [Jaxie’s] external world, the novel reveals his inner one with equally piercing lucidity . . . It’s as a finely nuanced picture of a damaged yet not defeated youngster nearing adulthood, along with sizzlingly rendered vistas of Western Australia, that this tour-de-force novel exerts its masterly grip.

Peter Kemp, The Times (UK)

Big themes – faith, salvation – and visionary splendour . . . A most enviable writer, both lauded and bestselling, Winton has a particular gift for making the vernacular lyrical . . . The setup is exhilarating, compelling: we are in Tim Winton country, and we are in for a ride.

Rachel Seiffert, The Guardian (UK)

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.

Corey Mesler, Memphis Flyer

An uncompromising novel that’s as tender as it is savage.

Claire Allfree, Daily Mail

Winton’s novel is layered, lyrical and intense. Its unforgettable young anti-hero tells his story in language as seared and salty as the Australian desert and the heartstopping climax had me feeling, to use one of his expressions, ‘like a possum chewing at a live power cord’.

Neil Armstrong, Mail on Sunday

Exploring ideas of masculinity, exile and hope, it is a wise novel, demonstrating Winton’s deep engagement with issues of moral complexity.

Hannah Beckerman, The Observer

Holden Caulfield, you have been eclipsed.

Brian Martin, The Spectator (UK)

It may be that this is his best book yet . . . Winton combines elements so imaginatively – and with such an unforced combination of the brutal and tender – that the result feels not only triumphantly good, but blisteringly original too.

James Walton, The Times (UK)

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Formats & editions

  • Hardback

    9780143786115

    March 12, 2018

    Hamish Hamilton

    288 pages

    RRP $39.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781760143732

    March 12, 2018

    Penguin eBooks

    288 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

Extract

I

When I hit the bitumen and get that smooth grey rumble going under me everything’s hell different. Like I’m in a fresh new world all slick and flat and easy. Even with the engine working up a howl and the wind flogging in the window the sounds are real soft and pillowy. Civilized I mean. Like you’re still on the earth but you don’t hardly notice it anymore. And that’s hectic. You’d think I never got in a car before. But when you’ve hoofed it like a dirty goat all these weeks and months, when you’ve had the stony slow prickle-up hard country right in your face that long it’s bloody sudden. Some crazy shit, I tell you. Brings on this angel feeling. Like you’re just one arrow of light.

And bugger me, here I am hitting a hundred already and still not even in top gear. On squishy upholstery, with one of them piney tree things jiggling off the mirror. I’m flying. And just sitting on me arse to do it. Off the ground. Out of the dirt. And I’m no kind of beast anymore.

So what does that make me? Someone you won’t see coming, that’s what. Something you can’t hardly imagine.

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Book Clubs
The Shepherd’s Hut Book Club Notes

Explore Tim Winton’s themes of lost boys and toxic masculinity with your book club.