November 7, 2002
12:20 PM Subscribe
Canadian novelist Yann Martel, whose novel, Life of Pi (excerpt, review), won the 2002 Booker Prize, has been accused of plagiarizing Brazilian novelist Moacyr Scilar's 1981 novella, Max and the Cats, which shares a similar premise. Martel freely admits that the premise of Scilar's work, which he discovered via a half-remembered (and scathing) critique, inspired Life of Pi, but he has not read it. The issue is whether a premise is intellectual property or whether such ideas are recycled all the time. While this would ordinarily be a literary tempest, Canada and Brazil have had a shaky relationship over trade in recent years; this may not help the situation.
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