18 January, 2021


Yann Martel accused of plagiarism, but no such problems for William Dalrymple, while Arvind Krishna Mehrotra hits out at literary critics.

illustration by Jayachandran Fame has its hazards. Yann Martel found himself in the centre of an unholy row in Brazilian literary circles soon after winning the $75,000 Man Booker prize last month. The Brazilians are accusing the 39-year-old Canadian writer of "borrowing" freely from an acclaimed book, Max and the Cats, written by Moacyr Scliar. The Brazilian’s story of a Jewish youth who survives a shipwreck and ends up sharing a lifeboat with a panther certainly resembles Life of Pi where a boy from Pondicherry is adrift on the high seas with a Bengal tiger. It is no coincidence that the plots are so similar: Martel has acknowledged his debt to Scliar both in a foreword in the book as well as in interviews. But Scliar is not quite pacified: "I feel flattered that another writer considered my idea to be so good, but on the other hand, he used that idea without consulting me or even informing me. An idea is intellectual property," he says in an interview to the New York...


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