Today is the sixth and final day of the Opal Mehta scandal, at least as far as this blog is concerned.
Little, Brown has declared an immediate recall of Harvard student Kaavya Viswanathan's first book, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life (HOMGKGWAGAL). Little, Brown had already shipped the first 55,000 books of a reputed 100,000 book run to booksellers so this will be a very expensive recall for them. According to the Associated Press, despite previous statements that the book would be revised to remove the plagiarized sections; Little, Brown would not offer comment when asked if the book was being changed, or canceled altogether.
I just checked e-Bay to see if the book was on sale there and found a dozen copies ranging in price from $.01 to $99.99. I then purchased a copy from AbeBooks.com.
Apparently as part of the same behind-the-scenes settlement, author Megan McCafferty issued a statement in which she said, "I wish to inform all of the parties involved that I am not seeking restitution in any form...I look forward to getting back to work and moving on, and hope Ms. Viswanathan can, too."
While Ms. McCafferty's statement is both gracious and graceful, no one can argue that she has achieved two things in the past week: first, enormous publicity for her own new book, Charmed Thirds, which was released on April 11; and, second, removal from the bookshelves of a novel that was competing with hers for the YA consumer dollars.
Kaavya Viswanathan declined comment.
Dreamworks had already purchased the film rights to HOMGKGWAGAL. Although there was no official word, Internet rumors were that the project will be shelved. Publishers Weekly reported that Variety said Dreamworks already had a script for HOMGKGWAGAL and that, "though the studio first considered acquiring McCafferty's work, it now seems that the project is being dropped entirely."
Lest Kaavya sink into utter depression, the Associated Press reminded readers of another scandal over 25 years ago. In 1980, Jacob Epstein admitted that his debut novel, Wild Oats, was plagiarized from writer Martin Amis. "Epstein found forgiveness in Hollywood, where his writing credits include "Hill Street Blues" and "L.A. Law."