This Winner of the EU Prize for Literature is a bleak but intriguing read. The brevity of detail keeps the reader at a distance and can make this a slow read but this is made up for in moments of great tension and the portrayal of the demanding arid landscape. Who is the boy, why is he running away and being chased, is the goatherd friend or foe, where is the story set and when? Some of these questions are eventually answered, others are not.
The boy stood up and looked round him. The village street was lined with shadows and crumbling walls. The sky kept its usual distance. The boy threw his head back and gave a long outbreath. He felt close to exhaustion and all he wanted at that moment was to return to his hole in the ground, to that warm, damp pit where he had drowsed and slept on the first night of his escape. ... He looked at his trembling hands and sighed. The donkey laden and ready to go, and, beside him, like a troubling reflection, the old man telling him to do something that went entirely against his instincts.