This morning a friend sent me this link to a USA Today article:
A reader alerted The New York Times to at least three portions of How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, by Kaavya Viswanathan, that are similar to passages in the novel Can You Keep a Secret?, by Sophie Kinsella.
While the plots of the two books are distinct, the phrasing and structure of some passages is nearly identical, the Times reported Tuesday.
In one scene in Can You Keep a Secret, which was published by Dial Press, the main character, Emma, comes upon two friends "in a full-scale argument about animal rights," and one says, "The mink like being made into coats."
In Viswanathan's book, Opal encounters two girls having "a full-fledged debate over animal rights."
"The foxes want to be made into scarves," one of them says.
The similarity of the animal-rights arguments is a little troubling, but if I didn't already know Viswanathan was a plagiarist, I'd have given her the benefit of the doubt in this instance. That's why I was disgusted to read the following:
There are also similarities in details and descriptions. Jack, the love interest in Kinsella's novel, has a scar on his hand; so does Sean, the romantic hero in Opal. Jack has "eyes so dark they're almost black;" so does Sean.
That's it? Those two examples of "similarities in details and descriptions" were the most egregious the tattletale could cite? I have a scar on my hand, too. So that similarity between the books hardly suggests plagiarism, not unless the scars of both heroes are shaped like five-pointed stars or something. (Mine's a crescent moon.) And if a hero having eyes "so dark they're almost black" is plagiarism, then half the romance novels I read last year should be yanked off the shelves.
This is ridiculous. If anybody has some real examples of plagiarism, trot them out. Otherwise, maybe we should stop trying to manufacture evidence against Ms. Viswanathan, who already has some very serious charges to answer. If we're going to start scrutinizing books with magnifying glasses or employing computer programs to find "similarities" to prove plagiarism, then every author I know is in trouble.