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Kaavya Viswanathan

Born: c. 1987
Birthplace: Chennai, India

Gender: Female
Race or Ethnicity: Asian/Indian
Occupation: Novelist

Nationality: India
Executive summary: Alleged plagiarist, How Opal Mehta...

Viswanathan's first and only novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life, contains a panoply of parallel passages with a novel by juvenile author Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts (2001). After this was revealed Viswanathan issued an apology, but it is difficult to see how a simple apology is going to get her out of this one. An example parallel from page 49 of her novel:

Though I had been to school with him for the last three years, Sean Whalen and I had never acknowledged each other's existence before. I froze, unsure of (a) what he was talking about and (b) what I was supposed to do about it.

Now the original passage from page 23 of McCafferty's work:

Though I used to see him sometimes at Hope's house, Marcus and I had never, ever acknowledged each other's existence before. So I froze, not knowing whether I should (a) laugh (b) say something (c) ignore him and keep on walking.

Viswanathan claimed that she had "internalized" the earlier work, and somehow regurgitated the words while writing Opal Mehta. One could dismiss this happening for a single passage as mere chance, but on this scale, one must commend her for her remarkably eidetic memory. Within several days, the publisher, Little Brown, cancelled Viswanathan's book deal and permanently withdrew the novel from sale.

    University: Harvard University (attending)

Author of books:
How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life (2006, novel)



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