Secondhand books: the murky world of literary plagiarism

Alison Flood in The Guardian:

It has long been claimed that there are somewhere between three and 36 basic plots in all forms of storytelling. Three years ago, academics fed nearly 2,000 stories into a computer analysis and concluded that there were six “core trajectories” for all stories. None of these common plots, however, include a character called Jack who passes off the Beatles’ music as his own on another planet (Milligan’s Enormity and Boyle’s new film), or an alcoholic, agoraphobic woman who watches a crime play out in the house opposite her own (Finn’s bestseller and British author Sarah A Denzil’s Saving April).

Milligan told Guardian Australia last week that he felt the similarities were “probably just a horrible coincidence and they mean me no disrespect”. As for Finn and Denzil, the similarities came to light this month after the New Yorker ran an exposé about Finn, a pseudonym for the publisher Dan Mallory, who has a history of lying about his professional history and health, including a brain cancer diagnosis.

Finn’s thriller was published in January 2018; Denzil’s novel was self-published in March 2016. Reviews on Amazon and Goodreads have pointed out the similarities between the two books for months. “Almost the same thing” says one Goodreads reviewer on Saving April. “Seems so similar to Girl in the Window. Feels like I just read a different version of that,” runs an Amazon review of Denzil’s book.

More here.