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Kaavya lands in fresh plagiarism row

JUST WHEN it seemed the curtain had finally fallen on the Kaavya Viswanathan saga, new accusations have come to the fore: that the Harvard sophomore copied certain portions from three other authors as well.

india Updated: May 04, 2006 14:02 IST

JUST WHEN it seemed the curtain had finally fallen on the Kaavya Viswanathan saga, new accusations have come to the fore: that the Harvard sophomore copied certain portions from three other authors as well.

The New York Times, after being alerted by a reader, says at least three portions in Viswanathan's How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life bear "striking similarities" to Sophie Kinsella's Can You Keep a Secret?

Although the plot of the two novels is different, the phrasing and structure of some passages is said to be "nearly identical".

In Kinsella's book, Emma, the main character, comes upon two of her friends "in a full-scale argument about animal rights", with one saying, "The mink like being made into coats." In Viswanathan's book, Opal, the heroine, encounters two girls having "a full-fledged debate over animal rights", with one of them saying, "The foxes want to be made into scarves."
Details and descriptions are said to be similar in two other portions.

The Harvard Crimson, which broke the Viswanathan story 10 days ago, suggests the Indian-American author has also drawn some bits from two other earlier works: Salman Rushdie's Haroun and The Sea of Stories and Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries.

In these instances the passages in question are short but contain similar rhymes and descriptions, the Crimson says, even while acknowledging that few "chick-lit" works have received the degree of scrutiny that Viswanathan is enduring now.

It says: "On page 35 of Rushdie's novel, one of the warnings reads: "If from speed you get your thrill, take precaution -- make your will." On page 118 of Viswanathan's novel, one of the posters reads: "If from drink you get your thrill, take precaution -- write your will."

Both Viswanathan and her publisher -- Little, Brown and Co.-- have declined comment on the new allegations.