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A gripping and perceptive novel about the trials of self-discovery by one of our most highly acclaimed writers.

Sex is forbidden at the Dasgupta Institute. So what is the sparkling, magnetically attractive Beth Marriot doing here? Beth is fighting demons: a catastrophic series of events has undermined all prospect of happiness. Trauma leaves her no alternative but to bury herself in the austere asceticism of a community that wakes at 4am, doesn't permit eye contact, let alone speech, and keeps men and women strictly segregated. But the curious self dies hard. Conflicted and wayward, Beth stumbles on a diary and cannot keep away from it, or the man who wrote it.

Originally published with the title The Server


It's a cracker - clever, funny and insightful, with complicated, conflicted and totally convincing Beth at heart

Harry Ritchie, Daily Mail

Parks writes with detachment, wit and intelligence, and the troubled voice in Beth is entirely convincing

Kate Saunders, The Times

A wry and subtle story about what happens when the western self tries to lose itself.

Kathryn Hughes, Prospect

An eminently readable and thought-provoking novel that teases you to the last page, and possibly beyond

Marcus Berkmann, Spectator

Quirky, witty and deep

Todd McEwen, Sunday Herald

The Dasgupta Institute...is sharply observed, a surprisingly dystopian environment of gender segregation and enforced privation

Thomas Marks, Telegraph

Tim Parks' new novel addresses in fiction a milieu and a theme that he explored, with great success, in his memoir Teach Us How to Sit Still

Leo Robson, Guardian

Entertainingly dramatizes the conflict between seeking tranquility and expressing one true’s self

Alastair Mabbott, Herald

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    May 1, 2013


    288 pages

    RRP $22.99

    Online retailers

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    May 2, 2013

    Vintage Digital

    288 pages

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