(as of Jun 16,2021 19:55:23 UTC – Details)
"Insanely readable." —Stephen King
Hailed as "breathtakingly suspenseful," Jean Hanff Korelitz’s The Plot is a propulsive read about a story too good not to steal, and the writer who steals it.
Jacob Finch Bonner was once a promising young novelist with a respectably published first book. Today, he’s teaching in a third-rate MFA program and struggling to maintain what’s left of his self-respect; he hasn’t written—let alone published—anything decent in years. When Evan Parker, his most arrogant student, announces he doesn’t need Jake’s help because the plot of his book in progress is a sure thing, Jake is prepared to dismiss the boast as typical amateur narcissism. But then . . . he hears the plot.
Jake returns to the downward trajectory of his own career and braces himself for the supernova publication of Evan Parker’s first novel: but it never comes. When he discovers that his former student has died, presumably without ever completing his book, Jake does what any self-respecting writer would do with a story like that—a story that absolutely needs to be told.
In a few short years, all of Evan Parker’s predictions have come true, but Jake is the author enjoying the wave. He is wealthy, famous, praised and read all over the world. But at the height of his glorious new life, an e-mail arrives, the first salvo in a terrifying, anonymous campaign: You are a thief, it says.
As Jake struggles to understand his antagonist and hide the truth from his readers and his publishers, he begins to learn more about his late student, and what he discovers both amazes and terrifies him. Who was Evan Parker, and how did he get the idea for his “sure thing” of a novel? What is the real story behind the plot, and who stole it from whom?
From the Publisher
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
At the risk of sounding too meta, how did you come up with the plot of The Plot?
JEAN HANFF KORELITZ: Like most writers I’m fascinated by plagiarism and the murkiness around creative appropriation: chefs stealing recipes from other chefs, comedians helping themselves to other comedians’ jokes, academic theft, and above all creative writers appropriating work by others. I’m hardly the first novelist to write about this — there’s an entire sub-genre of Stephen King work on this theme — and it’s not the first time I’ve touched on it in my own work, but it’s the first time I’ve placed it front and center in a book. I think it makes sense to write about the things that fascinate us.
While writing this book, you must have put yourself in the shoes of the main character. Do you think you’d ever steal a genius idea for a book if you knew it would never be used?
I wouldn’t, but only because I’m squeamish by nature and I’d be terrified about that degree of exposure and disapproval. But like most artists, I also understand that stories run underneath the ground of our collective experience, and we all dip into them, whether we’re aware of it or not. The real question is: At what point does a collective story become the individual property of a person or an artist? A contender for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Drama was The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez, which openly adapts Forster’s Howards End to contemporary New York City. This is a normal, even laudatory practice, which artists fully understand. But to help yourself to the specific plot of a recently deceased author who never completed his book? I don’t know where the line is, exactly, but I’m pretty sure that’s over it.