Her novel was withdrawn for plagiarism. His explanation was also.
A writer’s personal essay explaining why she plagiarized parts of what was to be her first novel was removed from a literary website on Monday after the essay itself also included plagiarized material.
The writer, Jumi Bello, had reached the final stages of publishing her book when she admitted plagiarism, she wrote in the essay, which was published on Literary Hub on Monday. The essay chronicled her story with mental illness and the pressures of producing a first book, examining how she allowed herself to accept the ethical sin of copying someone else’s work.
Her novel, ‘The Leaving’, was due for publication this summer, but was canceled after revealing the plagiarism to her publisher, Riverhead Books, in December. The book was about the unexpected pregnancy of a young black woman. In her essay, Ms Bello said she had never been pregnant and had searched online for richer descriptions of pregnancy.
“I tell myself I’m just borrowing and changing the language,” Ms Bello, 30, wrote in the essay. “I figure I’ll rewrite those parts later in the editorial phase. I’m going to make this story my own.
Shortly after the publication of the essay, other writers and publications including Gawker have noticed similarities between Ms. Bello’s description of the origins of plagiarism and the work of others.
Literary Hub withdrew the essay later Monday, saying in a statement: “Due to inconsistencies in the story and, most importantly, another incident of plagiarism in the published article, we have decided to withdraw the trial.”
Ms Bello was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.
Jonathan Bailey, the author of the Plagiarism Today website, wrote on Monday that Ms Bello’s essay “includes a poor paraphrase without attribution of an article I wrote over a decade ago.” He said his writing process, which included copying other works with the stated intention of altering the writing later, was flawed and made plagiarism inevitable.
“The way you avoid plagiarism is not to ‘change the language’ but to never have that language in your original work in the first place,” he wrote.