Zadie Smith Alleged Victim of Plagiarism in Turkey, but Also Maybe Not

106431864 Zadie Smith Alleged Victim of Plagiarism in Turkey, but Also Maybe Not


A blow-by-blow of accusations that Turkish novelist Elif Safak has plagiarized from the Turkish translation of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth is up at The Millions. We are told by The Millions’ Turkish correspondent (!) that this is what Ms. Safak wrote in a Turkish newspaper in response to the allegations (The Millions’ translation, since The Observer‘s Turkish is, um, rusty):

Enough already! Iskender, which I wrote in England, which my English publishers read line by line with great pleasure, which my English agency represents with great pleasure, will be published back-to-back in England and the U.S. in 2012 by Penguin and Viking, two of the best publishing houses in the world. Given all this, I don’t take seriously the accusations levied by a handful of people whose intention is to wear me down. As with all of my books, my hard work and imagination is evident in this novel. I’m fed up, we’re fed up with the reckless attacks against people who do different work. My reader knows me. Iskender is my eleventh book, my eighth novel. This is what I say to those dealing in slander, gossip, and delusional behavior.

The plots of the two books are apparently similar, but the passages that have received the most scrutiny involve characters looking up through a basement window at the activity happening at street level and conjuring stories from the things they see. It’s the physical perspective and activity that is replicated, not the language itself, although The Millions is working from a Turkish translation of White Teeth that has been translated back into English.



  1. Masabih 35 says:

    Cooked up controversy by vindictive “literary agent” and his minions.  If the agent had a cut of her earnings, she’d be the bee’s knees.

  2. Kaan says:

    Everybody knows in Turkey that, origins of these aspersion come from Turkey (one of them is Oray EGIN who is  an unsuccessful writer in Turkey ) who are ideologically against the Elif SHAFAK, but they are not going to be successful for these slanders. She is very honest and brilliant writer not only in Turkey but also in the world. On verra…

    Tufan BAL

  3. Cinli Deniz says:

    Elif Şafak promotes her books especially the  last one very actively. It’s a bit much and I guess it makes her a very controversial figure in Turkey and now in the UK as well. For the debates, we have to read both writers’ book, I think this is a kind of good ending from my side:)

  4. Elif Safak is a bad writer..she is not honest

  5. Turkishcitizen says:

    Its normal. Didn’t you hear the rumours about Turkey’s national education minister’s doctorate thesis?

  6. Erik Nigele says:

    it is a character of white turks which we call also losers of the new times to badmouth new generation of successful Anatolians with lies and blackmailings. However these white guys are so lazy that victory is always with hardworking Anatolians.

  7. hihgheels says:

    Anyone remembers the scene in  Almodovar’s Tacones Lejanos? Victoria Abril lives in the basement and looks up to people’s shoes and conjures up where they would go and  what they had done in life..

  8. Anonymous says:

    elif shafak writes with a copy-paste attitude, it is usually felt reading her novels, that she is trying so hard to make ends meet, by writing a patch here, copying from there and making a whole.. Her novels make the readers feel uneasy, it is the writers tremors that is being felt.. Therefore it is pretty natural to hear these rumors, they may be an aesthetic outcome..