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Ling Zhang responds to accusations of plagiarism

This week, the controversy dogging Chinese-Canadian author Ling Zhang’s second novel, Gold Mountain Blues, flared up again as prominent Chinese-Canadian authors Wayson Choy, Sky Lee, and Paul Yee signed a letter asking Penguin Canada to delay publication of its English-language translation of the book. Zhang has been accused of plagiarizing work by Choy, Lee, and Yee, as well as other well-known Chinese-Canadian writers. In their request, the trio criticize Penguin’s efforts to substantiate the accusations and they’ve asked for the delay so that an independent review might take place. (For more details on the controversy please follow the links to previous posts on Quillblog.)

In response, Zhang has issued a statement in which she claims not to have read the works from which she has allegedly borrowed, and expresses her disappointment at the recent turn of events:

Gold Mountain Blues is the result of years of research and several field trips to China and Western Canada. The research data obtained over the years is voluminous enough to allow me to write another complete novel if I chose to. A hundred and fifty years of Chinese-Canadian history is a “common wealth” for all of us to share and discover. I have not read The Jade Peony, Disappearing Moon Café, The Bone Collector’s Son, or Tales from Gold Mountain. I have a great respect for the authors who have already explored this rich territory before me: Wayson Choy, Denise Chong, Paul Yee, and Sky Lee.  I welcome and encourage authors interested in Chinese-Canadian history to do the same. When I started to write this book, I hoped it would serve to bring the Chinese-Canadian community a little more closely together, by sharing such a long and meaningful history.  I am deeply saddened to see that things do not seem to be going in that direction.