April 24, 2006
Plagiarism in a published best-seller UPDATED
Looks like the entire book industry needs Google Books just to do whole manuscript plagiarism checks.
Check out the passages for yourself. It's an open-and-shut case of plagiarism, like something right out of the playbook of that RedState.com dude that lost his blogging gig at the Washington Post.
[UPDATE: The author has since admitted the connection between the original and the parts she copied nearly wholesale. But she's still claiming she did it unconsciously and says she's mortified at causing harm to another author whom she admires. Bull-pucky. Anybody who compares the passages can clearly see that her paperweight was holding open the pages of the original in order to better transcribe the parts she was lifting to pass off as her own work. A seriously pathetic apology.]
Young author's book has passages similar to other published work
BOSTON --The debut novel of a Harvard University sophomore includes several passages that are similar to a work by another author published in 2001.
Kaavya Viswanathan's "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life" was published in March by Little, Brown and Co., which signed her to a hefty two-book deal when she was 17.
On Sunday, the Harvard Crimson reported the similarities on its Web site, citing seven passages in Viswanathan's book that parallel the style and language of "Sloppy Firsts," a 2001 novel by Megan McCafferty published by Random House.
Viswanathan, whose book hit 32nd on the New York Times' hardcover fiction best seller list this week, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. When reached by the Crimson on Saturday, she said: "No comment. I have no idea what you are talking about."
Michael Pietsch, the publisher of Little, Brown, said Sunday that the company planned to investigate the similarities.
"I can't believe that these are anything but unintentional," Pietsch said. "She is a wonderful young woman."
McCafferty told The Associated Press in an e-mail Sunday that some of her readers pointed out the likenesses.
Viswanathan said last month that she wrote the book during her spare time during her freshman year at Harvard, clicking away on a laptop in Lamont Library.
She is the youngest author signed by Little, Brown in decades, and the movie rights for the novel have already been sold to Dreamworks.
McCafferty is a former editor at Cosmopolitan who has written three novels.
"I do think this is one of the most difficult situations for an author," Joanna Pulicini, McCafferty's agent, told the Associated Press in an e-mail.
Difficult situation for an author? WHICH author? It's difficult for the person who had entire passages from her work lifted and put into another work by some Harvard freshman. It's difficult to see such a person climb the best seller's list when perhaps you didn't.
The ONLY way this isn't plagiarism is if you believe you can stick 100 monkeys in a room with typewriters and eventually one of them will type the complete works of Shakespeare.
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