Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

Image. Advertisement:

‘The Dogs’ removed from Miles Franklin longlist, White says Hughes breached trust

A week after John Hughes’ novel The Dogs (Upswell) was withdrawn from the Miles Franklin Literary Award longlist following the discovery of plagiarism, the Guardian has found more instances of plagiarism in the book.

In an article published on Tuesday, 10 June, a spokesperson for the Miles Franklin told the Guardian that trustee Perpetual ‘has consulted with the judging panel and the publisher and it has been agreed that the novel be withdrawn from the longlist’. Upswell publisher Terri-ann White continued to stand by Hughes’ claim that the copying of passages from Svetlana Alexievich’s 2017 oral history The Unwomanly Face of War (Penguin) was unintentional, stating: ‘We were not justifying anything: it was a clear appropriation of other people’s words … It was not deliberate; it was human error.’

However, more instances of plagiarism came to light last week, with the Guardian reporting similarities between passages in The Dogs and sections of novels including Anna Karenina, The Great Gatsby and All Quiet on the Western Front. Hughes responded in an op-ed, also published in the Guardian, saying that references to other texts were deliberate: ‘Pastiche of the great nineteenth century Russian novels was the dominant mode … I wanted the appropriated passages to be seen and recognised as in a collage.’

White responded in a statement on the Upswell website, saying she was ‘affronted’ by the claims in Hughes’ op-ed. ‘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. To have provided a note in this book with attribution would have been the only way to treat it. I now recognise this as a breach of my trust.’

When questioned by the Guardian about White’s statement, Hughes said he was ‘deeply sorry’ and ‘very distressed at the thought that her reputation might be tarnished in any way as a result of my actions’.

‘In my piece on influences I never intended to imply that I had knowingly passed off other writers words as my own,’ said Hughes. ‘I sought only to try to clarify as far as I am able how something like this might happen to a fiction writer.

‘Terri-ann White has been a staunch supporter for many years and is a person of great integrity … Small publishers are vitally important to our industry.’

The Miles Franklin shortlist will be announced on Thursday, 23 June and the winner announced on Wednesday, 20 July.


Category: Local news