A rifle-shot of a novel – crisp, fast, shocking – <i>The Shepherd’s Hut</i> is an urgent masterpiece about solitude, unlikely friendship, and the raw business of survival.<br> <br>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.<br> <br>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.<br> <br><i>The Shepherd’s Hut</i> is a searing look at what it takes to keep love and hope alive in a parched and brutal world.<br><br><b>Review by John Purcell</b><br><br>Brutal. That is the word that best describes Tim Winton’s new novel, <i>The Shepherd’s Hut.</i> Brutal. I felt bruised and winded on finishing it. Parched and dusty. I stared around me and the familiar was unfamiliar. The valued, valueless.<br><br>Jaxie Clackton is a speck on the huge expanse of the WA desert. He is on the run from the law. The outcast’s outcast just desperate to find the one person who really gets him.<br><br>And that’s all I want to tell you. The rest you can find out for yourself. And you will find out because you will read it. Everyone will be reading it. This book is set to be an Australian classic.<br><br>Another classic, that is. Because Tim Winton has already written <i>Cloudstreet, Dirt Music, Breath</i> and the others. And we come back 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 and <i>The Shepherd’s Hut</i> is truth at its most brutal.