Author's Essay Explaining Her Plagiarism Allegedly Contained ... More Plagiarism

Jumi Bello's novel, and now her essay about that novel, have both been pulled
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 10, 2022 12:48 AM CDT
Author's Essay Explaining Her Plagiarism Allegedly Contained More Plagiarism
Stock photo   (Getty Images / Claudia Longo)

(Newser) – An author's online essay on why she used plagiarized material in a novel pulled earlier this year has itself been removed after editors found she had again lifted material, the AP reports. Jumi Bello's “I Plagiarized Parts of My Debut Novel. Here’s Why" appeared just briefly Monday on https://lithub.com. Bello's debut novel, The Leaving, had been scheduled to come out in July, but was canceled in February by Riverhead Books. “Earlier this morning Lit Hub published a very personal essay by Jumi Bello about her experience writing a debut novel, her struggles with severe mental illness, the self-imposed pressures a young writer can feel to publish, and her own acts of plagiarism,” the publication announced. “Because of inconsistencies in the story and, crucially, a further incident of plagiarism in the published piece, we decided to pull the essay.”

Lit Hub editor Jonny Diamond said Monday that the plagiarized material concerned passages about the history of plagiarism; several commentators on social media had found similarities between Bello's writing and work from various previous sources. Bello did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In her essay, Bello writes about her determination to finish her novel, about a young Black woman who becomes pregnant. She remembers wanting to add “literary descriptions” of pregnancy, which she had not experienced, and seeking outside material.

"I tell myself I’m just borrowing and changing the language. I tell myself I will rewrite these parts later during the editorial phase. I will make this story mine again," she wrote. “I would have told myself anything at that point. I would go to sleep at 8am because of keyed-up nerves and wake up at midnight. I stay up all night, writing through the days. I just want to get through it, to a place where I can sleep again. Looking back on this moment, I ignored my instincts. I ignored the voice inside that said quietly, this is wrong wrong wrong.”

(Read more plagiarism stories.)

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