Books, Living, Tech
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Kaavya’s Boo Boo

Picture this. You’ve got yourself a huge advance on your book. You need to finish it. Quickly. The publishers are pounding on the door. With the money bags. What do you do? You scurry to your library, pick up some novels you really loved reading and randomly start copying (or getting inspired) bits here and there. Besides, you’re only 17! Unfortunately though for you, several others too have read the same book.

In this case, the author happens to be none other than Kavaya Vishwanathan who made waves after being the youngest author in decades to bag a hefty advance and get signed on for a two-book contract with Little, Brown and Co.

Kavvya defends herself: “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 can’t quite understand how someone can lift passages (with small changes of course and as many as 40 according to some reports) and then say she did it unintentionally. But I like the way she’s used the word ‘internalize’ to defend what she did.

The lady is smart enough to get into Harvard, but obviously not smart enough to figure out that people would eventually find out.

Is her career as a writer over though? People might be forgiving because of her age. On the other hand, perhaps not.

But if she does go and write a second novel, she’ll probably have to face a lot of challenges.

Apparently, Mcafferty, whose novels she has been accused of borrowing from has now refused her apology.


  1. Any person who has the brains to get into Harvard, definitely knows it’s wrong to copy from another person’s work. Guess she though no one would find out.
    Any person now buying her book will definitely think more than twice before doing so.

  2. In today’s age of short lived memories, Kaavya would have got away if she had not “borrowed” chunks and “forgotten” to use the quotes from an author of a different era. I guess she was naive to do it with a writer whose books occupied the same shelves as hers in the stalls. What is it – the impatience to get your few minutes of glory before being consigned to oblivion or the lure of money – short term goals that so characterise our fastfood world?
    Whatever the motivation, it was a sad end to someone who could actually have been a good writer.

  3. rajeev says

    the only summary to this …is the good old saying
    “Nakal ke liye bhi akal cahiye”


  4. I remember reading an article about originality in design — “creativity is copying from an unknown designer”.

    How can she do something like this when she knows that the exposure is so global?

    On the other hand, may be she really did internalize the novels? She must be reading a lot, and fast. How else do you explain someone so young able to write a novel, and get a famous publisher to buy it?

  5. navin: apparently her book started selling like hotcakes before it was pulled of! all the bad publicity didn’t deter people it seems 🙂

    usha: what i can’t understand is how she thought she could get away with it! like you said, if it was some author of a different era, no one would probably have known. but to have ‘borrowed’ from someone who is apparently well read in America (at least in the teen circles) is quite foolish!

    rajeev: 🙂

    sinoj: using a word like ‘internalise’ is not going to make it a lesser evil! the fact was that she blatantly lifted passages and changed them to suit her purpose…

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