Author’s note of ‘You Must Be Very Intelligent -The PhD Delusion’

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Ever since I finished my PhD, or maybe even before that point, I knew I had to write this book. However, this is not a diary of my time as a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh. Having said that, it is not quite a work of all-fiction either. If it were, I would probably have added some Frankenstein-like personalities and mad, sleep-deprived, eccentric geniuses, as beloved by atmospheric old movies. Or I would have described secretive, non-ethical research taking place in dank basements beneath cloisters, proving that scientists are amoral psychopaths. I did meet some people I could imagine creating a three-headed sheep for shits and giggles but I never actually saw anyone trying it.

However, I saw stuff that was dramatically dark, barking mad and hilariously ridiculous, but in an everyday way. I saw the monsters beneath the meniscus of human nature surfacing in a supposedly sedate world; of frustrated egos the size of Africa, where competition is pathological, volcanic rages seethe and tin pot dictators are drunk on oh-such petty power. It’s a world where glory is the goal and desperation is the order of the day; a world where young adults are forced into roles that make Lord of the Flies look like Enid Blyton.

It was an education. And it taught me to be wary of education.

Karin Bodewits


Editorial reviews:

“A new novel about academic life is not a ringing endorsement, to say the least. But it will make you laugh. And that’s the point.” (Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, February, 2018)

“The story is immersive, and I felt like I was there with our hero every step of the way.” (Chemistry World,, January 2018)

“Karin Bodewits’ partly autobiographic book ‘You must be very intelligent – The PhD Delusion’ is a revealing, tongue in cheek tale about PhD life.” (Ulrike Träger, Metior Magazine, November, 2017)

“PhD novel is ‘wake-up call’ on supervisor-student ‘power plays’” (Times Higher Education, November, 2017)


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