In the Booth
Opal Mehta Off the Shelves

On the Opal Mehta Beat

The New York Times journalist Motoko Rich has moved on from Fibs into plagiarism. Hey, wait a minute. That need some explanation, doesn't it?  Several weeks ago, Rich was reporting on Fibonacci poetry (a.k.a., Fibs), the web phenomenon that Gregory Pincus launched on his blog, GottaBook. In today's paper Ms. Rich and Dinitia Smith share a byline on an article examining the role of book packagers in "tween lit." Very interesting piece. The two Timesers include some new information about Alloy Entertainment/17th Street Productions, the packager behind the now controversial novel Opal Mehta. Written by Kaavya Viswanathan, the book  includes many apparently plagiarized passages.

Meanwhile, the author Mitali Perkins gives thoughtful consideration to Viswanathan's current troubles. Perkins wrote the wonderful YA novel Monsoon Summer, and like Viswanathan, she comes from a South Asian background. You can read Perkins's opinions on her blog, Mitali's Fire Escape.

I don't know that we will ever know the complete story about how Opal Mehta was written—or put together. I would like to hear more from both the publisher and the packager. Right now it looks like the reading public has been told some fibs, and I don't mean the Fibonacci kind.

For thorough coverage of the Viswanathan scandal, see MediaBistro's GalleyCat.


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