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Novelist’s Online Mea Culpa About Plagiarizing Her First Book Pulled – for Even More Plagiarism

Jumi Bello’s essay was taken down from Lit Hub after readers noticed similarities with other sources

Jumi Bello’s essay about why she had plagiarized parts of her debut novel, which had been scheduled to come out later this year, was taken down Monday after the online piece was discovered to also contain plagiarism.

The online magazine Literary Hub had published the essay, titled “I Plagiarized Parts of My Debut Novel. Here’s Why,” on Monday morning. Hours later, editors decided to pull the piece after several social media users pointed out similarities between Bello’s writing and other materials, top editor Jonny Diamond told the AP.

According to Diamond, the plagiarized sections lifted from sources detailing the history of plagiarism.

“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,” wrote Diamond in a statement published Monday afternoon on Lit Hub’s website. “Because of inconsistencies in the story and, crucially, a further incident of plagiarism in the published piece, we decided to pull the essay.”

In the retracted essay, said the AP, Bello wrote that she sought out “literary descriptions” of pregnancy, having not experienced it herself.

“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,” read one passage.

Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, was set to publish “The Leaving” in July 2022. The release was reportedly cancelled in February of this year. “The Leaving” is described as being about a young Black woman who tries to come to terms with her complicated past when she unexpectedly becomes pregnant.

Lit Hub and Riverhead Books did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

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