Young German author climbs bestseller list despite plagiarism claims

Where is the line between stealing someone’s words and transforming them into something new? 17-year-old Helene Hegemann’s new book “Axolotl Roadkill” is raising this question, following claims that she plagiarized parts of the novel. The claims follow a flurry of critical praise for the book and its nomination for a prize at the Leipzig Book Fair in March. Soon after the novel’s publication in January, blogger Dave Pirmasens showed that multiple parts of “Axolotl Roadkill” are nearly identical to passages from a lesser known novel called “Strobo,” published by a Berlin blogger who writes under the name Airen. Plagiarism complaints against Hegemann have since mounted and implicate elements ranging from the novel’s title to content from a short story Hegemann published. The young author admits that she plagiarized parts of the novel, seeming at times contrite but at times willful about her use of others’ material. “I think there are good ethical grounds for giving sources for a book – and the fact that I neglected to do so reflects my thoughtlessness and my narcissism,” Hegemann said in an interview with Die Welt, adding, “But for me personally, it doesn’t matter at all where people get their material – what matters is what they do with it.” The novel’s publisher is releasing a second edition of the book with credit given to Airen. Hegemann is also still in the running for the Leipzig Book Fair Prize,,5243076,00.html


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