Mathieu Etchiberri wants nothing more than to leave his family’s Arizona sheep ranch and go to college, but his father insists that he take over the ranch instead. Then his father is killed in an accident, and Matt discovers that he is not the heir to the ranch. So he travels to the French Pyrenees from which his father and grandparents came to settle the questions about his legacy. Instead, he discovers a vast Basque family and a mystery that drove his father to America and still festers in the mountain village. As Matt resolves the mystery of his family, he also discovers his Basque roots and learns the nature of love of family, responsibility, and the tension between individual desires and the needs of a community.
Matt’s journey to manhood takes place in a vividly depicted landscape populated by lively, memorable characters. This is the powerful story of a young man’s search for an identity that encompasses two cultures and one complex, scattered family.
Martin Etchart is director of the creative writing program at Phoenix College. He has written screenplays and another novel, The Good Oak (University of Nevada Press).
“This is a beautiful and compelling novel. Its focus on Basque culture, while compelling and authoritative and interesting in itself, also serves as a thematic underpinning for the larger questions that concern the novel. The writing is beautiful throughout, evocative of landscape and weather and animal life. One of the best novels I have read in several years.” -- Mary Clearman Blew, author of Jackalope Dreams
"Etchart's novel should be regarded as a major contribution to contemporary western US literature and recent Basque American writing." -- Western American Literature
“The Last Shepherd is a unique coming of age tale that shouldn’t be overlooked, much recommended.”—The Midwest Book Review
~The Midwest Book Review