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Get Over it Yaar May 8, 2006

Posted by KG in Etc..

Sommer brings up a recent Salon article about Kaavya Viswanathan, the all-too-public Desi who managed to get her name everywhere by plagiarizing substantial portions of other books in her first foray into the world of writing.  The only reason I feel the need to comment on this is because, well, its a South Asian thing, and I should really stand up for Sandip Roy and his attempt to tell Miss Viswanathan "it's okay, we understand, take a deep breath, we all make mistakes, move on…"  Because the primary rationale is that it is difficult being South Asian, being pressured, being pushed to succeed.  That we as this somehow "privileged" class of minority have it hard.

Well, I'm sorry, but that's crap.

The "South Asian" excuse — "one of us was bound to fail, eventually, right?" is frankly, insulting and tired.  South Asians have been a visible minority in the US for what, a generation or two now, and one of us feels so defensive as to pull out the race card in speaking out for a plagiarist?  Give it up.  And the spelling bee, rotary club, bring-the-medal-home pseudo-anecdotes are pretty well tread ground at this point.  If there's one thing I think we need to stop rehashing to everyone, its that boring old trope.

Which, when you think of it, is partly why Ms. Viswanathan's problem is that much worse.  Because not only did she plagiarize, she wrote about a subject that every South Asian who's grown up in North America can spout off about ad nauseum.  Now, if she'd stolen material from slightly more interesting source material (like so) maybe it wouldn't be so bad.  Now, she's not only a plagiarist, but a plagiarist that stole from source material that kind of sucks.

Please to forgive, by the way, the grumpiness.  I had what can only be described as the single worst day of work ever, which I'd blog about if it were comprehensible to those who haven't done consular work.  But in a word, let's just say that if you wanted to chart the worst possible perfect storm of system failures and outside events, today would be up there with that one day where your car didn't start, it was hailing, and you had to pick up a kidney from the airport.  Remember that day?  Yeah, it sucked.



1. Solomon2 - May 8, 2006

If I want to serve in Islamabad, is it best for a consular officer to learn Urdu, Hindustani, or something else?

2. mumtaz - May 8, 2006

I’d really like to hear more about that day.

3. Shawn - May 8, 2006


4. Kathryn - May 9, 2006

Hang in there!

5. nowheregrrl - May 9, 2006

I have to chime my agreement. And godamit someone already stole my idea for Better Luck Tomorrow! I better reinvent the model minority gone wrong model a different way…

6. Consul-At-Arms - May 12, 2006

Sorry about that bad consular day. They happen. Take a deep breath and re-group.

No pasaran!

7. Consul-At-Arms - May 12, 2006
8. A Cast Iron Pan « The Diplodocus - April 3, 2007

[…] of “exotic India!” that allowed it to be published.  In the company of other well-known trainwrecks, now there’s some chaff to be separated from the metaphorical […]

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