I continue to be fascinated by the Kaavya Viswanathan story. I want to feel bad for her. I want to believe that she didn't fully understand what she was doing and wasn't trying to do something wrong. But then there is this quote at the end of a Harvard Crimson story from Salman Rushdie, from whom Viswanathan is also accused of stealing:
"I do not accept the idea that this could have been accidentally or innocently done," Rushdie told CNN-IBN, an Indian-based network. "The passages are too many and the similarities are too extensive."But what I still don't understand is how she got the contract to start it all. I recently wrote a children's story and called a friend, who is a published children's author (her book spent time on various best seller lists). When I asked her about being published she told me that she, a published author, was having trouble getting her calls returned. In fact, most publishers didn't want to look at any new material from unpublished authors, choosing instead to work with known quantities, such as celebrities. There are thousands of talented writers out there all vying for some recognition, but can never get it.
So, what does that mean for Viswanathan? I think she was a marketing ploy. Her packager/ publisher saw some raw talent, figured it could make some hay with a young, attractive, talented writer who received a book contract along with her acceptance letter to Harvard. It all worked perfectly, right up until the point she was found out.
But what I can't decide is if she was a victim, or just a teenaged girl in over her head who just made a few mistakes.