Posts Tagged ‘Vikram Seth’

The curious case of David Davidar & Vikram Seth

10 July 2012

David Davidar, the Gentleman magazine journalist who became the face of Indian book publishing, is back in the news with a writer, Sivasundari Bose, alleging that Davidar plagiarised from her work, The Golden Stag, for his debut novel, The House of Blue Mangoes.

Bose claims similarities between the locale (south eastern tip of India), the time (the turn of 20th century), the sentences etc to make her claim.

Nilajana S. Roy, the Business Standard‘s literary critic, draws from her own example in journalism to show why Bose’s charges ring hollow.

“Some years ago, I took Vikram Seth out to lunch. We went to Dakshin, the signature South Indian restaurant at the Marriott; I switched my tape recorder on and ate very fancy appam-stew. The interview ran in Business Standard.

“A few days after it came out, I received an angry email from a man who accused me of plagiarism. Rahul Jacob at the Financial Times had also taken Vikram Seth out to lunch the month before. My accuser claimed that I had never actually had lunch with Seth; I had stolen Jacob’s experience for the column.

“The problem was that Vikram Seth behaves the same way when he’s taken out to lunch. He will duck under highly polished tables to see if they’re polished on the underside. And his opinions on writing and books in my interview and Jacob’s interview were presumably similar, though there were no direct quotes in common.

“I knew my accuser was misguided, and yet, the accusations were surprisingly hurtful. I hadn’t read Jacob’s Lunch with the FT before writing my own column. But still, I wondered whether I had managed to rip off his style in an act of psychic theft.

“When I did read both “Lunches” side by side, I finally understood my accuser. Jacob and I had taken the same man out to lunch and had come up with different experiences — but we talked about the dishes Mr Seth ordered, his enjoyment of the meal. Plagiarism was built into the grid.”

Photograph: courtesy The Globe & Mail, Toronto

Read the full column: When it’s not stealing

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Also read: Bombay Times, Hindustan Times and plagiarism

How should publications deal with plagiarists?

‘Plagiarists speed up spread of knowledge’

If imitation is the best form of flattery…

The award for the best opening paragraph goes to…

Since flattery is best expressed through imitation—II

Everybody’s is changing the game these days

Penguin sacks ex-Gentleman, David Davidar

12 June 2010

David Davidar, the former magazine journalist who rose to become publisher of such stellar Indian literary names as Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie, Khushwant Singh and Shobha De, has been sacked from Penguin Canada following charges of sexual harassment.

Davidar, 52, part of the team at the now defunct monthly, Gentleman launched by Minhaz Merchant, has been “asked to leave” the firm after a former rights and contracts director at the company, Lisa Rundle,  “brought an action” against him, Penguin Canada said in Toronto on Friday.

The new statement was in marked contrast to an earlier release on June 8 that suggested Davidar had left the company on his own to return to India to pursue his writing projects and other endeavours. Davidar is the author of two novels, The House of Blue Mangoes and The Emperor of Solitudes.

“I just felt I wanted to see if I could do something other than managing a company,” Davidar, had said in a boiler-plate exit interview. He said he and his wife were planning to return to India to live.

In a new interview, Davidar confirms he had a “friendship with my colleague” that went on for three years but says he is “dismayed Penguin Canada chose to respond to the charges by directing me to leave Penguin”:

“Earlier this week it was announced that I would be leaving Penguin Canada.  At Penguin’s request, I agreed to publicly state that my departure was voluntary.  The truth is that a former colleague accused me of sexual harassment and Penguin terminated my employment.”

Saturday’s Globe and Mail has further details of the scale of the alleged harassment as detailed by Lisa Rundle in her complaint before the Ontario superior court of justice on June 9. It suggests that Rundle was sexually harassed repeatedly over three years culminating in “outright assault” at the Frankfurt book fair last fall.

The accusations are accompanied by quotations from several e-mail messages Davidar allegedly sent to Rundle, whom he described as “utterly gorgeous,” “a vision in pink sipping a champagne cocktail.”

The court statement says:

“At the Frankfurt book fair last October Davidar appeared at Rundle’s hotel room door, ‘wearing excessive cologne, with buttons on his shirt undone down his waist’.

“Lisa stood in her hotel room into which Davidar had bullied his way, with her arms crossed, still near the door, and asked what he needed to discuss. He told her to relax and just let him come in. She refused and said she wanted to go to sleep.

“Rundle claims she climbed on a windowsill to avoid her boss and again asked him to leave. ‘He forcibly pulled her off the ledge and grabbed her by the wrists, forcing his tongue into her mouth’.”

David Davidar, who launched the Indian imprint of Penguin for the Anand Bazaar Patrika (ABP) group, moved to Canada in 2003 as head of Penguin Canada. August 15 is to be his last day at work.

Photograph: courtesy The Globe and Mail, Toronto

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Read more here:

Toronto Globe & Mail: Davidar forced out

The Star: Davidar was forced to leave Penguin

The National Post: Davidar was asked to leave

Straight.com: Sexual lawsuit filed

Akhand of Swot: David Davidar‘s exit

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