Showing all posts tagged: John Hughes

Upswell: the author publisher relationship is one of trust

18 June 2022

A statement from Terri-ann White of Upswell, publisher of Australian author John Hughes novel The Dogs, made in the wake of additional allegations of plagiarism by Guardian Australia:

I have published many writers who use collage and bricolage and other approaches to weaving in other voices and materials to their own work. All of them have acknowledged their sources within the book, usually in a listing of precisely where these borrowings come from. I should have pushed John Hughes harder on his lack of the standard mode of book acknowledgements where any credits to other writers (with permissions or otherwise), and the thanks to those nearest and dearest, are held. I regret that now, as you might expect.

I think the sympathy of most people lies with Upswell. As White points out, the relationship between writer and publisher is one of trust. A publisher cannot be expected to check every last sentence in a manuscript to ensure there are no duplications between it and another work. It is the author’s obligation to declare such borrowings, and is something just about all do.

On the other hand, it is also unrealistic to expect works to be completely devoid of references to other titles. For example, I could understand how a sentence — perhaps read in a book years ago — might linger in the mind of a writer to the point they come to think of it as theirs. And while I’m not sure many people would expect to see upwards of sixty instances of such borrowings in a single book, authors referencing each other’s work is, and always has been, intrinsic to writing.


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John Hughes accused of more instances of plagiarism

16 June 2022

Allegations of further instances of plagiarism have been levelled against Australian author John Hughes, following a Guardian Australia investigation which identified almost sixty similarities between Hughes’ 2021 novel The Dogs, and a 1985 book, The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich.

Although Hughes apologised, describing his use of the phrases and passages from Alexievich’s title as inadvertent, another probe has found The Dogs — which has since been withdrawn from the longlist of this year’s Miles Franklin literary award — apparently contains sentences drawn from other notable literary works, including The Great Gatsby and Anna Karenina.

It has since been revealed that The Dogs also contains passages which are similar to books including The Great Gatsby, Anna Karenina and All Quiet on the Western Front. Guardian Australia has cross-referenced all the similarities between Hughes’ work and those classic texts and found some cases in which whole sentences were identical or where just one word had changed.

Some people might have been prepared to give Hughes the benefit of the doubt after he apologised for using Alexievich’s work, given the explanation he offered seemed some what plausible. Unfortunately it is difficult to look passed these latest allegations. I’d been looking forward to reading The Dogs, as I do any title on the Miles Franklin longlist.


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John Hughes plagiarised Svetlana Alexievich without realising

9 June 2022

A Guardian Australia investigation has turned up numerous similarities — fifty-eight in fact — between The Dogs, the 2021 novel by Australian author John Hughes, and The Unwomanly Face of War, a 1985 non-fiction title, written by Belarusian journalist and Nobel laureate, Svetlana Alexievich.

After uncovering some similarities between the books, Guardian Australia applied document comparison software to both texts, which revealed 58 similarities and some identical sentences. Guardian Australia also found conceptual similarities between incidents described in the books, including the central scene from which The Dogs takes its title.

Yes, there’s a lot of published fiction in the world. Many authors, just about all I’d think, are influenced to some degree by the work of other writers. From time to time then, some comparisons may be drawn between two quite different titles, and one or two minor overlaps may also be observed. But fifty-eight instances? That’s quite a stretch.

In a statement to Guardian Australia Hughes offered an apology, saying he’d started writing The Dogs — which has also been included on this year’s Miles Franklin longlist — fifteen years ago. Part of this process involved talking to his Ukrainian grandparents, whose accounts of the Second World War where similar to some of the testimonies Alexievich gathered while writing her book.

He had first read The Unwomanly Face of War when it came out in English in 2017, he said, and had used it to teach creative writing students about voice, acknowledging Alexievich as the source. “I typed up the passages I wanted to use and have not returned to the book itself since,” he said. “At some point soon after I must have added them to the transcripts I’d made of interviews with my grandparents and over the years and … [had] come to think of them as my own.”

Update: a joint statement from Hughes and his publisher Upswell in response to the Guardian Australia article.


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