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Publisher Pulls Harvard Student’s Novel Over Alleged Plagiarism

Little, Brown and Co. removed Kaavya Viswanathan's debut novel from book stores as the Harvard University sophomore continues to come under fire for allegedly plagiarizing. An industry expert talks about the allegations and the book publishing industry.

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    Among the hard-charging and overachieving student body at Harvard University, 19-year-old sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan boasted one credential none of her peers could match: a reported half-million-dollar book and movie deal for the first-time author.

    But now, the book that led to her big payday, "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life," has been pulled from shelves by its publisher, Little, Brown, amid a plagiarism scandal.

    Viswanathan has been accused of lifting passages from two works of another author, Megan McCafferty. Among the passages that caused concern, in McCafferty's first novel, "Sloppy Firsts," she wrote, "He smelled sweet and woodsy, like cedar shavings."

    Viswanathan would later write, "I had even begun to recognize his clone, sweet and woodsy and spicy."

    The accusation was first reported by The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper. Viswanathan has now apologized for the transgression; she appeared last week on NBC's "Today" show.


    I completely see the similarities. I'm not denying that those are there, but I can honestly say that any of those similarities were completely unconscious and unintentional, that while I was reading Megan McCafferty's books, I must have just internalized her words. I never, ever intended to deliberately take any of her words.