Thursday, July 27, 2006

Writing, Stealing, or Packaging?

Tim Cavanaugh on ethics in the book publishing world:

Kaavya Viswanathan was riding high in April, shot down in May. The Harvard sophomore’s debut novel—How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, for which she had received a $500,000 advance at the age of 17—was moving up the bestseller lists. The chick-lit book detailed the struggles of an Indian-American high-school girl trying to maintain a social life and get into the Ivy League. Opal Mehta’s apparently autobiographical story—celebrated in The New York Times, USA Today, and many other venues—was making Viswanathan a media sensation, a model of the kind of deranged precocity that Harvard increasingly demands of its students. Then in late April The Harvard Crimson revealed that Viswanathan had plagiarized more than a dozen passages from two young adult books by Megan McCafferty.

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