Alissa Nutting, author of Tampa.

Taboo: Alissa Nutting. Photo: Supplied

Surrounded by churches and schools, the Blues Point Bookshop in McMahons Point is often filled with parents and children browsing the bookshelves or sitting on lounges reading.

But Tampa, Alissa Nutting's controversial novel about a female teacher who preys on teenage boys, is one title they won't be finding in Helen Baxter's bookshop.

Ms Baxter said she had decided not to stock the book, which the author has described as a contemporary version of Lolita - a novel that can be bought at her bookshop.

Alissa Nutting, author of Tampa.

Controversial: Tampa. Photo: Supplied

''Sometimes I take what I define as the moral high ground,'' she said. ''I just felt I'm in an environment where I couldn't personally promote this. It's such a complex issue and, right now, I'm surrounded by many churches and I see in the community the enormous stress of this ongoing problem of child abuse.''

Nutting's novel about a female sexual predator, Celeste Price, who seduces a teen student, has divided critics in the US with its graphic accounts of their sexual encounters and its satirical style.

Price is promoted by publisher Allen & Unwin as a literary monster on par with Patrick Bateman from American Psycho.

The Washington Post book reviewer Lisa Zeidner said there was not anything inherently wrong with laughing about taboo subjects.

''It's just difficult to get the tone right,'' she said. ''For the most part, Nutting doesn't.''

Several bookstores in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia have also declined to sell Nutting's novel, which will be published on July 24.

Stephanie Walkem, the owner of Angus & Robertson in Victoria Point in Brisbane, said: ''While I believe it is vital that we continually push the boundaries of modern writing, I did not take this book because it would require careful hand selling and, [at] the time of its release, August, my focus is on titles that are suitable Father's Day gifts.''

But the manager of Dymocks Camberwell in Victoria, Kat Kelly-Kobes, said she would sell Tampa with an R18+ age warning sticker.

''If someone wants it, it's not for me to say they're not allowed to read it,'' she said.

A spokeswoman for Allen & Unwin said the publisher had not presented the book to discount department stores such as Big W, Target and Kmart because ''they rarely support debut literary fiction titles''.

Nutting said she was inspired to write Tampa after coming across the case of school teacher Debra Lafave, who was convicted of having sex on multiple occasions with a 14-year-old student.

Nutting had gone to school with Lafave and said she wanted to explore how female sexual predators and their male victims are treated differently by society.

''The response is so interesting to me because, when the victim is a teenage girl, we don't ask her if she wanted to do it,'' Nutting said. ''We don't assume it was a positive learning experience.''