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Publisher Recalls Book by Harvard Sophomore Accused of Plagiarizing

By Motoko Rich and Dinitia Smith

Just a day after saying it would not withdraw “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life” from bookstores, Little, Brown, the publisher of the novel whose author, Kaavya Viswanathan, confessed to copying passages from another writer’s books, said it would immediately recall all editions from store shelves.

In a statement issued Thursday night, Michael Pietsch, senior vice president and publisher of Little, Brown, said that in an agreement with Viswanathan, the company had “sent a notice to retail and wholesale accounts asking them to stop selling copies of the book and to return unsold inventory to the publisher for full credit.”

The publisher had announced an initial print run of 100,000 and had shipped 55,000 copies to stores. Viswanathan, 19 and a Harvard sophomore, has been under the microscope since the Harvard Crimson revealed on Sunday that she had plagiarized numerous passages from “Sloppy Firsts” and “Second Helpings,” two novels by young-adult writer Megan McCafferty.

“We are pleased that this matter has been resolved in an appropriate and timely fashion,” said Crown Publishers, which publishes McCafferty’s books, in a statement. “We are extremely proud of our author, Megan McCafferty, and her grace under pressure throughout this ordeal.”

McCafferty, who until now has remained silent, also issued a statement Thursday night. “In the case of Kaavya Viswanathan’s plagiarizing of my novels ‘Sloppy Firsts’ and ‘Second Helpings,’ I wish to inform all of the parties involved that I am not seeking restitution in any form,” she said.

“The past few weeks have been very difficult, and I am most grateful to my readers for offering continual support, and for reminding me what Jessica Darling means to both them and to me. In my career, I am, first and foremost, a writer. So I look forward to getting back to work and moving on, and hope Ms. Viswanathan can too.”