News & Reviews
Viswanathan in doghouse as Little, Brown and Co. dumps plagiarized novel
Little, Brown and Co. is pulling teen "author" Kaavya Viswanathan’s debut novel
from bookshelves after she admitted stealing material from veteran Megan McCafferty’s previously
published books. How Opal Mehta Got
Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life had sold for six figures when
the publisher signed Viswanathan to a two-book deal.
Viswanathan acknowledged that she stole many passages in her young
adult novel from McCafferty, whose titles include Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings. Viswanathan
apologized to McCafferty for "unintentionally" lifting passages from
books she’d read while in high school, and promised to change her debut
novel in future editions.
But that wasn’t enough for McCafferty’s publisher, The Crown Publishing
Group, which called the plagiarism "literary identity theft" and hinted
at a possible lawsuit. That prompted Little, Brown -- which initially
didn’t plan on pulling How Opal Mehta Got Kissed -- to dump the book.
Crown said in a press release that it was "pleased that this matter has
been resolved in an appropriate and timely fashion" and added that
McCafferty would not "seek restitution in any form."
Little, Brown officials did not say whether they would publish the
second novel in Viswanathan’s two-book deal. Viswanathan, whose book
was about a high school overachiever rejected by Harvard because she
had no social life, is now a sophomore at the university.
This is the third major publishing scandal this year involving author
credibility. Viswanathan joins James
Frey and JT Leroy in
the literary doghouse but, unlike the two, she has little writing
ability to fall back on.
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