Sex is forbidden at the Dasgupta Institute. So what is the sparkling, magnetically attractive Beth Marriot doing here? Why is a young woman whose irrepressible vitality and confident ego were once set on conquest and stardom, now spending month after month serving in the vegetarian kitchen of a bizarrely severe Buddhist retreat? 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. And the more she yearns for the purity of the retreat's silent priestess, the more she desires the priestess herself. "The Server" sets western individualism against the Buddhist belief that what we call 'self' is insubstantial fantasy. Unsure of anything but pain and pleasure, Beth's constant invention and destruction of herself and the people around her is both riveting and highly entertaining.
About Tim Parks
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Published January 1, 2012
by Harvill Secker.
Literature & Fiction.