Here's an incredible story for you. I've been meaning to post it for a while but am easily distracted by shiny bookcases and cool new book paraphernalia, so it's been stuck in my to-post file for longer than I intended.
Helene Hegemann has done what most writers only dream of. Her first novel, Axolotl Roadkill, is a bestseller that received rave reviews from critics and readers alike, and she is now a finalist for a major literary prize. Pretty good for a 17 year old.
Unfortunately, as with most modern-day fairy tales, it's a bit too good.
A blogger discovered that large portions - in one case even an entire page - of Hegemann's novel had been lifted from a different, lesser-known work. Outrage naturally followed and grew when Hegemann's book was shortlisted for a $20,000 prize, with one jury member admitting that the plagiarism charges were known to the judging panel.
Hegemann appears unrepentant, only apologizing for not being more transparent about her sources. She even went so far as to dub her actions an act of "intertextuality." "Very many artists use this technique ... by organically including parts in my text, I am entering into a dialogue with the author." She added, “There’s no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity."
I'm flabbergasted. Not just by Hegemann's sheer cheek in stealing someone's work and her smug spouting of pseudo-intellectual crap, but also by the people who continue to support and even champion her. I, quite frankly, think it's disgusting. James Frey was forced to adopt a string of pseudonyms under which to write after his Pieces debacle, yet this girl continues to receive ever more adulation. What gives?
[via the NYT]