Helene Hegemann, Mixmaster
Wunderkind author says she didn't plagiarize so much as "mix." No matter—her book remains a bestseller and contender for top prize.
3:00 PM, Feb 15, 2010 • By VICTORINO MATUS
If someone accuses you of something untoward, try responding with, "Hey, I was just keeping it real." At least this is what 17-year-old Helene Hegemann has been doing—and quite effectively. Hegemann is already the toast of the town, having written and staged a play, and boasting a film-writing credit as well as a German bestseller, Axolotl Roadkill. But then one of those pesky bloggers had to point out parts of that bestseller were taken from another lesser known book, Strobo. And yet, as Nicholas Kulish pointed out last week, this hasn't disqualified Hegemann's work from competing for such prizes as the Leipzig Book Fair's top award (worth $20,000). In fact, the jury for that prize knew about the plagiarism charge before it declared her book a finalist.
Kulish quotes one juror, Volker Weidermann, who said, "Obviously, it isn’t completely clean but, for me, it doesn’t change my appraisal of the text.... I believe it’s part of the concept of the book.” Writes Kulish:
In other words, she was keeping it real.
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