Thursday, April 27, 2006

How a Plagiarist Got Discovered

Another plagiarist uncovered, it seems!

Read the story in the Malay Mail yesterday (for some strange reason the MM seems to be suddenly quite good about picking up quirky book news.)

Harvard undergraduate Kaavya Viswanathan scooped a publishing deal worth $500,000 for her first novel and another book. She now stands accused of plagiarisng parts of How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life from two novels by Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings. Both books tell of a young woman from New Jersey trying to get into an Ivy League college. The New York Times reports that there are at least 29 (!) passages that are strikingly similar. Viswanathan has issued an apology.

Jane Sunshine e-mailed me this morning to go take a look at Khitabkhana, and there's links to more gossip about the case there.

15 comments:

Chet said...

An apology - is that all? The book's already published (I remember seeing it in London bookstores), so will it be recalled? And what about those who already bought the book? Will it now be a collector's item?

bibliobibuli said...

it seems that some parts of the book may have to be rewritten ... but let's see what the fallout it

seems also that harvard my take action ... how can a student sully it's reputation?

boo_licious said...

aiyoh so many of them around - even in the blogosphere. I suspect MM may be moving towards the artier direction with their new paper hence these articles will pop up.

On a side note, has anyone gone to the Times sale? Am resisting it now but I am itching already to visit it during the weekend. Heard that Borders is also starting their anniversary sale today.

bibliobibuli said...

boo - will be interested to see what happens with the MM - i'm v. fond of its tacky image right now ... but someone's got to give more space to books!

yes, i'm going to the times sale this pm ... pls don't tell me about borders too!

Lydia Teh said...

The other author, Megan M's book sales will go up for sure.

Sharanya said...

For quite a lengthy discussion on the ethics of the issue (from an Indian diaspora perspective, though): http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/003298.html#more
and http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/003294.html#more
(the comments sections of both are quite alot to wade through, but some are interesting).

bibliobibuli said...

sharanya - thanks so much for the link - the piece is so well written. i thought this an intersting statement in the comments:

This is a brown tendency, this placing-on-a-pedestal and calmly toppling it off at the slightest hint of anything that's remotely negative.

would you say it's true?

Sharanya said...

I don't want to generalize, Sharon. But I do think that when it does happen, it's at least partly one of those postcolonial things, tied to the search for identity and those difficult questions of the meaning of community -- the answers to which sometimes come in the form of self-loathing. Bear in mind that the website those links are from is American, which further suggests that such an attitude could be a side-effect of cultural displacement/coping with multiculturalism.

Jane Sunshine said...

In a strange way, I feel sorry for Kaavya, being so young and all. Can she ever put this behind?

Lotus Reads said...

I do feel sorry for Kavya - the pressure must have been intense. However, that's no excuse. I am glad she has accepted responsibility and I think future publications will acknowledge Megan M. (or so I read). Off to read the Sepia Mutiny article now.

Sufian said...

She's good looking. She'll survive.

Anyway:

http://archive.salon.com/books/feature/2000/01/18/carver/index.html

bibliobibuli said...

thanks sharanya - food for thought ...

jane, lotus - yes she is so young to have all this happen to her ... hope she can get past it ... she seems to have talent enough

sufian - *LOL*

now who was it mentioned this similarity between the carver and lawrence stories the other day - ruhayat or irman? shall read the article closely

Anonymous said...

Sharon: I believe the publisher has recalled the book from bookstores. After all, forty (!) passages were similar to Megan M's! The author said she "internalised" the book while an interesting article in IHT on Friday highlighted that the author actually worked with a book packager to come up with the storyline. One of the editors at the book packager worked on Megan M's books though the publisher pointed out that this editor did not edit the work. Read the article here: http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/04/27/news/pack.php.
The book packaging aspect is more intriguing to me than the alleged "copying".

The Great Swifty said...

Well, here's an entry about the incident I got via John Scalzi, which also leads us to a few other articles as well.

On an unrelated note, I reviewed Haruki Murakami's Wind-up Bird Chronicles. Heh heh heh.

Chet said...

From an article in the New York Times:

"The relationships between Alloy and the publishers are so intertwined that the same editor, Claudia Gabel, is thanked on the acknowledgments pages of both Ms. McCafferty's books and Ms. Viswanathan's How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life."