'Opal' Similar to More Books

Kaavya Viswanathan faces new allegations that her novel, "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life," borrowed material from earlier works.

While the newly-uncovered similarities between "Opal Mehta" and works by Salman Rushdie and two other authors are not as striking as the previously revealed parallels to Megan McCafferty's books, the allegations raise fresh questions about the originality of Viswanathan's novel.

But few if any "chick-lit" works have ever received the level of intense scrutiny that "Opal Mehta" is now enduring. And it is not clear whether the new allegations suggest further plagiarism, or whether Viswanathan is simply employing tropes that are widely-used in the genre.

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Gladwell on Opal

Malcolm Gladwell offers interesting comments on this issue.

an someone tell me why? This is teen-literature. It's genre fiction. These are novels based on novels based on novels, in which every convention of character and plot has been trotted out a thousand times before. If I wrote a detective story, set in 1930's Los Angeles, about a cynical, hard-bitten private eye, with a drop dead gorgeous secretary and a series of lonely housewife clients, would anyone bat an eye? Of course not. It may be a stolen premise. But we accept that within the category of genre fiction a certain amount of borrowing of themes and plots and ideas is acceptable—even laudable.

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