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Young author faces more allegations of plagiarism

Times Staff Writer

Amid new charges of plagiarism, the publisher of “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life” said Tuesday that there would be no revised version of the novel, as had been promised earlier, nor would the company publish a second book under contract to the author, Kaavya Viswanathan.

The statement by Michael Pietsch, senior vice president and publisher of Little, Brown & Co., brought down the curtain on a story that had greatly embarrassed the publisher and the author, a 19-year-old Harvard sophomore.

Last week, Viswanathan admitted she had plagiarized as many as 40 passages from two novels by Megan McCafferty, “Sloppy Firsts” and “Second Helpings,” published by Crown. She said, however, that the borrowing had been unintentional. Her publisher pulled all copies of the novel out of bookstores and said a revised version would be forthcoming.

But Viswanathan’s woes widened Tuesday as she was hit with new allegations of plagiarism in articles by the Harvard Crimson and the New York Times.

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The Crimson identified passages in the book similar to “The Princess Diaries” by Meg Cabot and “Haroun and the Sea of Stories,” a children’s novel by Salman Rushdie.

The Times identified several passages that Viswanathan appeared to have borrowed from “Can You Keep a Secret?” by young adult writer Sophie Kinsella.

Viswanathan had no comment on Tuesday’s decision.

Random House Inc., which published McCafferty and Kinsella, also declined to comment, noting that Little, Brown had voluntarily withdrawn the book from the marketplace.

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Viswanathan was 17 when she signed with Little, Brown.


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