It is 1987, two years after Live Aid and PR expert Adrian Burles, working with charity Africa Assist has a Big Idea that he thinks will keep Ethiopian hunger in the headlines and touch heartstrings (and purse strings) of people in the West.
Aided by Anne Chaffey, an experienced nurse who has worked at the famine frontline for many years, he locates a young, malnourished Afar man called Mujtabaa wandering alone in the desert and flies him back to London.
The world's media are then invited to witness a skeletal Mujtabaa making a week— long walk from Heathrow to a rally in Trafalgar Square. In fundraising terms, this is a great success - but the ethics of the exercise, the human impact on all concerned and the ultimate result are all profoundly to be questioned.
The Walk is a provocative and unsettling novel about the morality of charity, the media and public relations. Situated in one single week it explores how far you can go to prick the public conscience.
Peter Barry was born in England, brought up in Scotland and now lives in Australia. He is the author of two other novels, I Hate Martin Amis Et Al and We All Fall Down and has had many short stories published in literary journals. He was shortlisted for Australia Book Review's Calibre essay prize.