26 April 2006

How Viswanathan Got a Book Deal, Got Publicity... and Got Caught

A new fracas is brewing in the publishing world.

In one corner is Kaayva Viswanathan, the Harvard University sophomore who landed a six-figure book deal and who's debut novel, "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life" was met with good reviews.

In the other is Megan McCafferty, author of "Sloppy Firsts," "Second Helpings" and "Charmed Thirds."

The problem? Viswanathan's novel contains more than 20, and possibly up to 40 passages (depending on who's side of the story you listen to) that are substantially similar to McCafferty's.
The Harvard Crimson -- the student newspaper at the Ivy League school -- first broke the story about the similarities.

A USAToday story today says Viswanathan admits taking material but that it was accidental. In an appearance on the TODAY show this morning, Viswanathan said she read McCafferty's first two books several times and had "internalized" them. She also apologized to McCafferty on air.

So far, McCafferty's publisher, Random House, hasn't accepted that Viswanathan's mistakes were unintentional.

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