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Kaavya's novel withdrawn in US

April 28, 2006 09:53 IST
The publishers of How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life by Indian-born author Kaavya Viswanathan have agreed to withdraw the book from the market and asked retailers to return all copies following allegations of plagiarism.

Michael Pietseh, senior vice-president of publishers Little, Brown said on Thursday they have sent a notice to all retail and wholesale outlets asking them to stop selling copies of the book.

Similarities were reported between the teenage author's debut novel and Megan F McCafferty's novels Sloppy Firsts (2001) and Second Helping (2003).

Expressing her apology to McCafferty and 'any who feel they have been misled by these unintentional errors,' Kaavya had said earlier this week 'while the central stories of my book and hers are completely different, I wasn't aware of how much I may have internalised McCafferty's words.'

Kaavya made headlines two years ago when she got a two-book deal worth half a million dollars from her American publisher. In February 2006, DreamWorks bought the movie rights to her first novel.

Kaavya's statement through the publisher acknowledging that she borrowed material and her promise to change the text in future editions came after The Harvard Crimson on Sunday cited seven passages in her novel that closely resembled the style and language of McCafferty's books.

Initially, the publisher had said copies of the novel already on the shelves would not be withdrawn while Kaavya had stated she would correct the text to remove any 'inappropriate similarities.'

Pietsch also told The New York Times that the publishers would not sue Kaavya for breach of contract.

In an interview with the daily on Wednesday, Kaavya said some of the similarities may have occurred because she has a photographic memory and had read McCafferty's novels three or four times each.

But Random House, the publisher of McCafferty's books, was not convinced that the 'errors' were unintentional and said Kaavya's explanation was 'deeply troubling and dangerous.'

EM>How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life had been released to rave reviews in March, two years after its author, who is studying at Harvard, reportedly bagged a $500,000 contract as a 17 year old.

Dreamworks bought the film rights for the novel before the allegations broke out.

Kaavya's novel tells the story of Opal, a New Jersey teen of Indian origin who gets rejected by Harvard despite an impressive academic record because she did not have a social life.

Opal's father then devises a plan dubbed HOWGAL (How Opal Will Get A Life) to get her admitted into the prestigious university.

Dharam Shourie in New York
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