Many of you have already picked up on the story broken by the Harvard Crimson on Sunday. It appears VERY likely that young author Kaavya Viswanathan is a cheat. Her newly released novel, part of a lucrative two-book deal, has several passages that are almost identical to a 2001 novel that examined similar adolescent themes:
A recently-published novel by Harvard undergraduate Kaavya Viswanathan ’08, “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life,” contains several passages that are strikingly similar to two books by Megan F. McCafferty–the 2001 novel “Sloppy Firsts” and the 2003 novel “Second Helpings.”
At one point, “Opal Mehta” contains a 14-word passage that appears verbatim in McCafferty’s book “Sloppy Firsts.”
Reached on her cell phone Saturday night, Viswanathan said, “No comment. I have no idea what you are talking about.”
McCafferty, the author of three novels and a former editor at the magazine Cosmopolitan, wrote in an e-mail to The Crimson Saturday night: “I’m already aware of this situation, and so is my publisher…” [Link]
Normally I would be skeptical until I heard more about this, but the Crimson has just broken it down to the point where you know how this is all going to end. Her literary career is over. If I were her I would think about falling back on medical school or something real quick. I was thrilled to see a teenage girl that could still write and didn’t use “u” instead of “you,” or “r” instead of “are.” My hopes for the next generation are now completely dashed. Here are just two of the numerous examples of apparent plagiarism cited by the Crimson:
From page 217 of McCafferty’s first novel: “But then he tapped me on the shoulder, and said something so random that I was afraid he was back on the junk.”
From page 142 of Viswanathan’s novel: “…he tapped me on the shoulder and said something so random I worried that he needed more expert counseling than I could provide…”
From page 237 of McCafferty’s first novel: “Finally, four major department stores and 170 specialty shops later, we were done.”
From page 51 of Viswanathan’s novel: “Five department stores, and 170 specialty shops later, I was sick of listening to her hum along to Alicia Keys……” [Link]
Reading the Crimson article inspired me to do some investigative blogging of my own and has led me to a fantastic discovery which I would like to reveal first to SM readers (an then later to the world press). Aided by SM staff I have found striking similarities between the novel “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life,” and the 1982 book Holy Blood, Holy Grail by authors Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh. For example, if you take the name of the main character, “Opal Mehta,” and you rearrange the letters, it gives you the following phrase:
p>I think somewhere in Holy Blood, Holy Grail they mention that “a pale moth” is one of the symbols associated with the female divinity, a symbol that was suppressed in the 6th century by the papacy. On a previous post we all wondered why the title character would be named “Opal Mehta” of all things. It makes sense to me now.
Furthermore, I have reason to believe that Kaavya Viswanathan may not even be her real name. Rearranging the letters in her name gives you:
Roughly translated this seems to mean that Satan stays away from wherever the Ankh is displayed (the ankh being an ancient symbol that some believe is the precursor to the Christian cross). This again is a theme that Baigent and Leigh discuss in their non-fiction book. Before the Harvard Crimson article I would have just thought that “maybe this is all a coincidence,” and this really is just a book about a teenage girl that she created from her imagination. I am sure that you all agree in light of the evidence that I have just laid out that this is highly unlikely. This girl simply has no conscience.