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Monday, April 24, 2006

How Opal Mehta Got Caught

According to the Harvard Crimson, passages from the 17-year-old Kaavya Vishwanathan's How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life are strikingly similar to Sloppy Firsts, a 2001 novel by Megan McCafferty.

For example:

On page 213 of McCafferty's book: "He was invading my personal space, as I had learned in Psych. class, and I instinctively sunk back into the seat. That just made him move in closer. I was practically one with the leather at this point, and unless I hopped into the backseat, there was nowhere else for me to go."

On page 175 of Viswanathan's book: "He was definitely invading my personal space, as I had learned in Human Evolution class last summer, and I instinctively backed up till my legs hit the chair I had been sitting in. That just made him move in closer, until the grommets in the leather embossed the backs of my knees, and he finally tilted the book toward me."

Here's another:

McCafferty, page 6: “Sabrina was the brainy Angel. Yet another example of how every girl had to be one or the other: Pretty or smart. Guess which one I got. You’ll see where it’s gotten me.”

Viswanathan, page 39: “Moneypenny was the brainy female character. Yet another example of how every girl had to be one or the other: smart or pretty. I had long resigned myself to category one, and as long as it got me to Harvard, I was happy. Except, it hadn’t gotten me to Harvard."

When the Crimson reached Viswanathan and informed her of the similarities the Harvard sophomore said, “No comment. I have no idea what you are talking about.”

Oh, dear. It does sound pretty damning.

(Link courtesy The Literary Saloon.)

Update: The Crimson today reprinted a statement issued by Vishwanathan through her publisher, Little, Brown: "While the central stories of my book and hers are completely different, I wasn't aware of how much I may have internalized Ms. McCafferty's words. I am a huge fan of her work and can honestly say that any phrasing similarities between her works and mine were completely unintentional and unconscious. My publisher and I plan to revise my novel for future printings to eliminate any inappropriate similarities."

That's as good as admitting it, isn't it?

3 Comments:

  • Sorry for nitpicking....it's Opal MEHTA and not Mehra.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 2:01 PM  

  • Oops. Corrected, thanks.

    By Blogger PrufrockTwo, at 2:06 PM  

  • i think that this is the most disgusting thing than can ever happen. when you copy sometyhing into your work , you instinctively remember to have read it somewhere. so it cannot be unintentional.
    she has ruined her life herself. what will she do know?

    -
    jvpoirot

    By Blogger jvpoirot, at 2:41 PM  

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