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Kaavya Viswanathan book 'Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got A Life'

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On April 23, 2006, The Harvard Crimson reported that several portions of How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got A Life appear to have been plagiarized from Megan McCafferty's 2001 novel Sloppy Firsts.


Kaavya Viswanathan (born Chennai, India, ca. 1987) is an Indian-American sophomore at Harvard University and a novelist. Her first novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life, which has been optioned by Dreamworks, is reported to contain plagiarized passages from at least two other novels.


Viswanathan began writing How Opal Mehta.... while still in high school in Hackensack, New Jersey. After receiving an early acceptance to Harvard, she showed her work to her privately-hired college admissions adviser, who contacted the William Morris agency. They suggested she work with 17th Street Productions (a division of Alloy), packagers who were responsible for the Gossip Girl books and Ann Brashares' The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. She eventually signed a two-book deal with Little, Brown & Company for a $500,000 advance.


The novel deals with an Indian-American girl who, after being told by a Harvard admissions person that her academically-driven character lacked "well-roundedness," goes out and does what she thinks regular Americans do.


In a statement issued by her publisher, Viswanathan admitted she "accidentally" borrowed some passages from Megan McCafferty's novels. She said:


"When I was in high school, I read and loved two wonderful novels by Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings, which spoke to me in a way few other books did. Recently, I was very surprised and upset to learn that there are similarities between some passages in my novel ... and passages in these books.


While the central stories of my book and hers are completely different, I wasn't aware of how much I may have internalized Ms. McCafferty's words. I am a huge fan of her work and can honestly say that any phrasing similarities between her works and mine were completely unintentional and unconscious. My publisher and I plan to revise my novel for future printings to eliminate any inappropriate similarities.


I sincerely apologize to Megan McCafferty and to any who feel they have been misled by these unintentional errors on my part."

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Viswanathan had stated a week ago that though literature was her passion, she wanted to "dabble in the financial world."


Getting an MBA degree would be a natural goal for her, she said.


Would she be interested in studying at the famed Harvard Business School?


"If they can have me, surely," she said with a chuckle.


She isn't around to tell us if she is still hoping for a Harvard admission.



Here is more from the Harvard Independant




When Random House executive Steve Ross flatly rejected the apologies offered by Kaavya Viswanathan '08 and Little, Brown, her publisher, for the similarities between Viswanathan's novel How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life and two novels by Megan McCafferty, it was clear that the publishing-industry giant was not willing to let the controversy blow over just yet. It even fanned the flames by upping the documented number of allegedly filched passages from the Crimson's thirteen to 45 (PDF), though some of the new examples seem less forceful than the evidence previously available.



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