Kaavya, The Book, and Teen Lit
I'm sure you all know by now about Kaavya Viswanathan, the copying, the publisher taking the book (How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life) off the market.
At my place of work, as of Friday the book was still on order, and I'm fairly confident that is one order that won't be filled.
But for those of you who have the book on the shelf (or, more likely, checked out with a list of holds), what is the responsible thing for a library to do?
I've heard various thoughts in the blogosphere; including, on non-library blogs, a sense of anger at those libraries that decide not to discard it. (The logic being, the publisher recalled it because of plagiarism; therefore, if a library decides to keep it they are deciding that the plagiarism does not exist. )
So here are my questions: what do you think should be done if the book is on the shelf? How does keeping or discarding the book tie in with your library's mission?
Perhaps the saddest result of this matter is that it's become an opportunity for papers and bloggers to slam teen literature. No, not the old Gossip Girl arguments; rather, that teen literature stinks or that teen literature is incapable of being copied because it's all the same.
The Los Angeles Times says that "most of the stuff published for children and adolescents is abysmal, self-regarding trash", and "some of what results is truly noxious, some is distasteful, most is merely dreary. The majority of books aimed at today's young people fall into this last category." As pointed out by Teen Lit author Cecil Castellucci, the paper fails to even mention a certain award with a young adult category -- the LA Times Book Award.
This blog (by a writer for the New Yorker magazine and author of two non-fiction book) argues that it's impossible to plagiarize from teen literature ("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"), showing an ignorance about literature and teen literature that is appalling. (Scroll down the comments for Judith Ridge's wonderful response, asking the blog author whether she has in fact "Read any YA fiction lately?")
The deliberate ignorance is chilling. In trying to be a wee bit positive, let's assume that these "teen lit stinks" authors are willing to read one teen book. Which book is it? Since the LA Times author appears to think all teen lit is grit lit, I'd instead suggest a fantasy like The King of Attolia; for the snobby blog author, I'd go with a book that is clearly not genre, such as Postcards From No Man's Land. And since the LA Times author talks about most/the majority, I'd also be prepared with a list of "also reads" that is five pages long.
Technorati tags: YA books, writing