Saturday, April 29, 2006

For a Harvard Student and Aggrieved Novelist, Plagiarism Generates Interest


CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 28 — On Thursday night Little, Brown announced that it was pulling the Harvard sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan's chick-lit novel, "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life," from bookstores because numerous passages in it had been plagiarized.

On Friday morning Maggie Hsu, a sophomore biology major at Harvard, went to the Harvard Coop bookstore, where she bought the last copy of "Opal" before clerks removed it from shelves. Ms. Hsu said that she had planned to purchase the book before the controversy erupted, but that the recall sent her to the bookstore. "I've been talking to a lot of people about this, and what everyone seems to be asking is, 'Why would anyone do this?' "...

...Earlier this week Steve Ross, Crown's publisher, described Ms. Viswanathan's actions as "nothing less than an act of literary identity theft." When Little, Brown said on Monday that it would "eliminate any inappropriate similarities" in future printings of "Opal," Mr. Ross questioned how quickly that could happen and said that leaving the original edition on the shelves during the time it took to make the revisions was "of great concern."

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