How Kaayva Viswanathan Plagiarized, Lied And Still Doesn't Seem To Get It

Posted on April 27, 2006

Cover of How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life

The plagiarism scandal of Harvard undergraduate scandal is heating up. Kaayva Viswanathan, the Harvard undergrad whose parents paid $10,000 to an admissions service to help her get into the Ivy League school, was then sent to book packager 17th Street Productions to help her write a novel (no word yet who paid for that expensive bit of help). She landed a $500,000 two book contract with Little, Brown. The first book published was How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life, which got good reviews. So what't the problem? Well, apparently, she copied major parts of her book from a Random House author and she just got caught. She then apologized, like that would be the end of it. Guess again.

A story in USA Today quotes Crown publisher Steve Ross as saying, "We think there are simply too many many instances of 'borrowing' for this to have been unintentional."

Viswanathan says in a statement that she "wasn't aware of how much I may have internalized Ms. McCafferty's words." She also promises to revise the book.

Crown issued a statement that it has found more that 40 passages from the book that "contain identical language and/or common scene or dialogue structure from Megan McCafferty's first two books." Crown also says, "This extensive taking from Ms. McCafferty's books is nothing less than an act of literary identity theft."

News flash: saying you're sorry and saying you'll revise the 40+ passages you plagiarized from another author doesn't make it ok. In an interview she was asked what books inspired her novel; she replied that no one else's book inspired her. From her own statements and the evidence of the identical passages in the two books, it appears clear that she plagiarized and then she lied to cover it up. And now she's going to have to pay the price.

Photo: Crown